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Pitman, Turlock football trade jabs in recent Harvest Bowls

POSTED November 1, 2011 8:12 p.m.

For the first few years, the main location of the Harvest Bowl trophy was on the Pitman High campus. But for the last four years, it’s been moving from place to place like an unstable sports franchise.

Truthfully, the owners of the Harvest Bowl trophy don’t do too much to the shiny object. Maybe they’ll take a picture with it or show it off from time to time.

Other than that, it just collects dust in an office or classroom somewhere.

But that’s not the point.

The point is, the players, coaches, students and other supporters of Pitman High and Turlock High football simply want that trophy in their possession. The annual clashing, which started in 2004, is something that’s always in the back of their minds. On Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Joe Debely Stadium, they wait no longer.

 Get ready for Harvest Bowl XIII.

And just like the other meetings, this year’s is expected to be a good one with more than just bragging rights on the line. Pitman (8-1, 3-1 Central California Conference) and Turlock High (7-2, 3-1 CCC) are fighting for better playoff positions now that the league title is out of reach after both squads lost to defending champion Buhach Colony High (9-0, 4-0 CCC) earlier in the season. The Thunder, who are state-ranked and coming off a 90-48 win, are the heavy favorites heading into their matchup with Atwater High on Friday.

But both the Pride and Bulldogs say Friday’s game is just like any other.

“This game does have a lot of meaning for seeding toward playoffs,” Pitman senior Zach Olsen said, “but we are taking this week just like all the previous weeks. Our goal is to be 1-0 after Friday night. We have been preparing for Turlock the best we can and will hope to perform to the best of our ability to win the game.”

The Pride won the first four Harvest Bowls before Turlock finally got one in 2008. A year later, the Pride snatched back the trophy over a winless Bulldogs team.

And last year, the Bulldogs didn’t get their 21-16 victory until the final moments.

This year, there doesn’t seem to be a true favorite with both teams having nearly similar records. However, the Bulldogs seemed to have traveled a tougher path, seeing that they’ve faced three teams — Buhach Colony (9-0), Downey High (7-2) and Oakdale High (9-0) — with winning records.

The Pride have played against one winning team, in Buhach Colony, but, at the same time, handled almost everyone who has come their way. They’ve won by a combined score of 338-120.

Still, both sides believe it’s going to be a tough Harvest Bowl to win.

“I don’t think this is any different from any other year,” Pitman coach Brandon Harris said. “They beat us last year. They’re the kind of the defending champs until we knock them off.”

Turlock coach James Peterson sees it the same way.

“Harvest Bowl is our biggest game and our biggest crowd,” he said, referring to an expected sold-out crowd at Debely Stadium. “We have a lot of things that we have to get prepared for.”

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

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