By Austin Green
Jesse Craven had to wait over a year after his hiring in March 2020 to participate in his first Pacific League game as the head coach of the Burroughs High School football team.
While the wait was worth it in many ways — an uncharacteristically cool and overcast spring day more reminiscent of November weather than March in Southern California, and the unbeatable setting of the football mecca that is the Rose Bowl — Craven and his team were in for a rude welcome.
Six days after a statement win against Burbank, Burroughs’ archrival, Pasadena High School took care of the Indians by a final score of 48-7. The coaches agreed to play the entire second half with a running clock after Pasadena led, 35-0, at halftime.
“They’re a tough team, they’ve got some really good athletes out there,” Craven said. “It’s a team that we have to be able to compete with year after year… [this game] gives us the first look of what the standard of measurement is in the Pacific League. So if we want to compete in the Pacific League, these are the teams we have to be able to match for a full game.”
Pasadena improved its record to 2-0 on the season. Burroughs, which won Craven’s coaching debut at San Marino last week, drops to 1-1 and 0-1 in Pacific League play.
While their scoring took a little while to get going, the Bulldogs’ defense dominated Burroughs in the trenches, mostly neutralizing running back Luke Rogers, the focal point of the Indians’ offense. Quarterback Jon English, a converted running back, struggled against the Pasadena onslaught. He finished with two completed passes on 10 attempts for 27 yards and one interception. Receivers John Alajijian and Ryan Hernandez each finished with one catch.
Afterward, Craven praised English and blamed himself for the uphill battle his new quarterback faced during the game.
“Quarterback is a hard position to play,” Craven said. “He’s doing everything we’re asking him to do. He’s a tough kid. We’ve got to find ways to make it easier on him, put him in better situations. When we get in third-and-longs, it’s tough for any quarterback to do well in that situation.”
Rogers also showed his toughness, bouncing back from several hard hits as the Burroughs coaching staff called his number again and again. He finally broke through in the second half, helping pace a long Indians’ drive that ended in a one-yard touchdown run on Rogers’ 21st carry of the day. Rogers turned in a solid performance, finishing with 149 yards and the one touchdown on 23 carries.
“He runs so hard,” Craven said of his star running back. “When he gets opportunities and when we get into a rhythm, it just kind of flows from there because of how hard he plays and how hard he runs.”
Running back Marcus Manahan also had 12 yards on four carries for the Indians.
For the home team, the Pasadena tandem of quarterback Dante Coronel and running back Daylon Beasely proved simply too much to handle. The two marched the Bulldogs down the field on the game’s opening possession, which ended in an eight-yard touchdown run for Beasley. After a three-and-out and a botched fake field goal, Pasadena scored on three straight possessions in the second quarter, then added the exclamation point when defensive end Jamir Mitchell stripped the ball from English just before halftime and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown. Mitchell, who plays both ways, later caught a touchdown from Coronel as a tight end.
Beasley finished with 100 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries, all of which came in the first half. Coronel finished with six completions in 15 pass attempts, racking up 174 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Kevin Serrato had two catches for 52 yards and a touchdown. He also recovered teammate Ahmad Jolley’s fumble in the fourth quarter — then promptly outran the entire Burroughs defense for a 77-yard score, his second touchdown of the day. The dominant performance in all facets left even Pasadena head coach DeJuan Shamburger in awe.
“That feels good to understand that when we’re practicing, that means they’re listening. They’re hustling… they really made me shake my head,” Shamburger said.
Despite the blowout, Craven remains confident in the hard-nosed, ground-and-pound identity his team is building.
“We know who we are as a team and when we play our game we can compete with anybody in our league,” he said. “But it’s just getting those things in the right order.”