Pasadena High football coach Randy Horton officially stepped down less than 24 hours after his team suffered a stinging 37-7 defeat to Muir in Thursday evening’s 59th annual high school football edition of the Turkey Tussle at the Rose Bowl.
The coach submitted a letter of resignation to Pasadena High Principal Gilbert Barraza, assistant principal Michael Bell and athletic director Kevin Mills on Friday, Horton confirmed Monday morning.
"I had always set my goal for being here for three years. I had wanted to be here until [quarterback] Brandon Cox’s senior year and then reevaluate where I wanted to go next," Horton said. "Once I finished getting my degree, I thought I would look for a job at the next level and that’s what I’m going to do."
Horton’s resignation ends a three-year tenure in which the Bulldogs finished with an 11-21 record, reached the postseason once and were beaten by Muir three straight years.
"I kind of expected it," said Mills, who was also Horton’s offensive coordinator this season, of the letter Monday morning. "He’s a good man and he’s got a big heart and it was great working with him."
Horton succeeded current Temple City High Coach Mike McFarland at Pasadena in 2010 and previously served as a defensive coordinator when Mills last was the head coach in 2008.
Previous to that, Horton said he enjoyed working as a strength and conditioning coach for UCLA in 2007, but lost his position when Karl Dorrell was let go.
"Unfortunately, that’s the nature of sports. When the head coach goes, the staff goes too," said Horton, who also previously was an assistant coach at Pasadena City College and Mt. San Antonio College. "I’ve always enjoyed the college game and I’d like to get back there."
Horton obtained his bachelor’s degree in Organization and Administration of Sports and Recreation Management from Ashford University in January, but stayed for the 2012 season at Pasadena.
Horton and the Bulldogs opened the 2012 campaign with high aspirations and set the their prime objective in winning the program’s first Pacific League championship since 1984.
However, that goal was stymied when Cox, who recently changed his verbal commitment from the University of Arizona to the University of Utah, broke a bone in his left foot versus Los Angeles Cathedral on Sept. 7 in nonleague play.
What was then believed to be a three-to-six-week injury instead turned out to be a season-ending affliction.
The injury served as a tipping point for a season in which Pasadena finished 1-9 overall and 1-6 in league, which tied the Bulldogs for seventh with Hoover.
The seventh-place finish was the worst for Pasadena since the Pacific League expanded to eight teams in 2006.
"I have a lot of respect for Coach Horton both as a coach and mentor," Cox said. "He and I made a pact that he would stay until my senior year and he was here for three years. He put in a lot of time making us a better team and better people.
"What people don't see is how the graduation rate of the team went up and the team's GPA went way up. While the season didn't go the way we wanted, we owe a lot to coach."
Much of the hope for 2012 came from the team’s improvement the previous year.
After Pasadena finished 4-6 and fifth in league in 2010, the Bulldogs enjoyed their best season under Horton in 2011 when they finished 6-6 overall, tied for third in league, and advanced to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs.
In that season, Pasadena defeated host California, 57-43, in the first round of the playoffs, marking the program’s first postseason victory since 2007.
The Bulldogs also narrowly missed toppling cross-town rival Muir before falling, 14-6.
As for the coaching vacancy, Mills said the job would include a full-time teaching position and "was going to be opened up" to applicants from inside and outside the district.
"The difficult part is finding a qualified candidate and educator," Mills said. "We have to find someone with principles who is OK without making a whole bunch of money."