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Pitman focused on always tough Merced before Harvest Bowl

POSTED October 25, 2011 11:19 p.m.

For the first eight weeks of the high school football season, the most a team scored on Pitman High was 24 points. And that was by Buhach Colony High, a state-ranked team chasing back-to-back Central California Conference titles and boasting a couple of highly recruited athletes.

Then last Friday night happened.

The Pride went up against an Atwater High team that scored 35 points, something the Turlock High football talked about earlier this week after a post-practice huddle, considering that’s the same Atwater team the Bulldogs will have to face this Friday night.

Against Atwater, the Pride, who won 42-35, got another reason to think that every CCC team is out to get them. In that game, Pitman’s Kody Brackett scored five touchdowns.

But now, the Pride are marching on.

And yet, they face another tough league team in Merced High this week — though the Bears aren’t the Bears of old, when they won back-to-back-to-back championships during the last decade. Even so, Merced continues to give opponents fits. In the past two games against Turlock and Buhach Colony, two playoff-bound teams, the Bears lost by a combined three touchdowns.

The Pride (7-1, 2-1 CCC) will play Merced (3-5, 1-2 CCC) at Veterans Stadium in Merced on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

“Every week, on Saturday, we start 0-0,” Pitman coach Brandon Harris said about his Pride preparing for an opponent.

In reality, the Pride are better than that. This is Pitman’s best start since the school started varsity football in 2004. Their lone 27-24 loss came against a powerful Buhach Colony team in the final minutes.

But having that 0-0 mentality has helped the Pride all season long.

After Merced, Pitman will play Turlock in the crosstown rivals’ annual Harvest Bowl.

“We prepare for everybody like it’s the league championship game,” Harris said. “We’re going to prepare for (the Bears) like they’re Oakland Tech. We’re approaching this thing seriously like we did with anybody else.”

Four of Merced’s five losses have come in the last six games.

Pitman, on the other hand, hopes to secure one of the two automatic spots in the CCC for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs. The other teams are Turlock (6-2, 2-1 CCC) and Buhach Colony (8-0, 3-0 CCC).

“We’re not focused on playoffs right now,” said Pitman cornerback/defensive back Brent Nelle, who had 167 yards and one touchdown against Atwater. “We’re focused on beating Merced and getting ready for Merced. After that, we’ll look to the next game.”

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.

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