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Fans provide electric atmosphere at 18th annual Harvest Bowl
harvest bowl fans
Joe Debely saw 3,400 fans of both Turlock and Pitman high schools cheer on their respective teams at the 18th annual Harvest Bowl game on Friday night. (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Bulldog and Pride fans rocked the house at Joe Debely Stadium for the return of a Friday night Harvest Bowl. Not being able to have the full experience due to COVID restrictions, 3,400 fans of both Turlock and Pitman high schools made up for it by providing an electrifying atmosphere Friday night.

“It’s just nice to have everyone back out here. The team gets very motivated with people cheering you on, especially when you have the entire school behind you. It just nice to have a bit bigger competition, especially with the crowd cheering and everything, it just really elevates the game,” said Turlock senior Sydney Rowan.

The Harvest Bowl is the most anticipated game of the season for local high school football fans and the students were excited to have the full experience this year.

“It feels like normal again; it’s very exciting to be back out here,” said Pitman senior Avery Peterson.

“it's really nice to have everyone out there because I think it's something that really brings our whole community together, considering it's a cross town rivalry. It really brings the community together. It's basically a tradition like you have alumni coming and people from the entire town coming; it's really great to see everybody come back,” said Turlock senior Kate Ogden.

For some students, they’ve been attending this game since they were a very young age and are excited to be there as a student.

“I grew up coming to games, my mom was a teacher and I would come all the time. So finally, being able to come here and represent my school, it’s super fun. I’ll enjoy it while it lasts,” said Pitman senior Taylor Vannest.

While the rivalry is intense between the two schools, there is a mutual understanding how important this game is to Turlock and the fans were glad the town could come together like this.

“It's just something that brings us all together really and it sparks the rivalry between us and Pitman for sure. It’s most definitely just one of those things that it's really important to a lot of people in the town of Turlock,” said Turlock senior Brody Mensonides.

“I love how it brings the whole community together. It’s such a big rivalry, but the entire town gets together and I think that’s amazing,” said Turlock senior Chloe Banks.

While there is a mutual respect, that doesn’t mean the rivalry isn’t intense. The teams want bragging rights for the year and this year, whoever wins this game gets the first league win of the season.

“Turlock’s pretty cocky but we’re taking them out tonight. We got our first win last week and we’re going to use that momentum to win the Harvest Bowl tonight,” said a Pride fan as she was rushing to stands to find her friends before the game starts.