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Sold out crowd sticks to good-spirited cheering at rivalry game
More than 5,000 fans showed up for the sixth annual Harvest Bowl game at Joe Debely Stadium on Friday night.
Blue and gold balloons filled the sky Friday night along with cheers from the Pit-Crew as the national anthem finished, welcoming fans to the 2009 Harvest Bowl.  
Problems with fan bad behavior during last year’s football game between cross-town rivals Turlock and Pitman forced school district administrators to get pro-active for this year’s event. Their plans paid off.
Besides the normal competitive behavior during teams at any football game, the fans and supporters were well behaved Friday night at Joe Debely Stadium, with no bad behavior to speak of.  
“As a board member, I am thrilled with the excellent planning of the game for a family event with a safe environment,” said Timm LaVelle, Turlock Unified School District Board president.  
The game started off with Pitman’s spirit group, the Pit-Crew, swaying and chanting to pump up their team along with Turlock’s spirit group, the Dogpound, chanting and dancing with their over 200 blue and gold balloons.  
Each school had signs to show their school spirit that were pre-hung before the game and also pre-approved.  
Turlock had signs that read “Go Bulldogs,” “Who let the dogs out,” and “We love THS.” Pitman had signs that read “This poster means nothing,” “This one was approved,” and “Gimme 5.”  There were no hand-held signs at Friday’s game.
These signs were a far cry from one 2008 Harvest Bowl banner which read “We (heart) our teachers...but not like that,” in reference to former Pitman High teacher Carl Kubicek who was sentenced to seven months in jail for carrying on a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student.
Pitman’s signs were in regards to their white-out night theme they were promoting to support their team who were wearing brand new white uniforms, said Mazie Ludlow, Pitman Associated Student Body president. The “Gimme 5” signs were in reference to last night’s fifth win against the Turlock Bulldogs with a score of 40 to 6.  
Before the half-time buzzer went off, TUSD Superintendent Sonny Da Marto said he was pleased with how the game was going and said he was sure the game would end positively.  
“The kids and parents are doing good tonight,” Da Marto said. “It is going great with a pretty full house.”  
With a sold-out crowd, there were no crowd control issues during the game.  There were 5,000 tickets sold, with Pitman seats selling out by 2 p.m. Thursday and Turlock seats selling out before noon on Thursday, said Dana Trevethan, Turlock High principal.  There were also 20 tickets sold for the Turlock Turf Crew end-zone seats.   
Like any other football game, positive chants were echoed throughout Joe Debely Stadium with a couple of shots taken back and forth between the schools.  
Both the schools shared a couple of “boos” and a couple of battles of “our house” but other than that, chants were focused on supporting their own individual schools.  
Pitman did a chant every third down in an effort to tell their team they were still there while in the process of losing their voices, Ludlow joked.  
“Our chants are to build our boys support and let our boys know we are still here,” she said. “We are feeling the love tonight.”
One of the efforts to prevent bad sportsmanship was to focus on selling spirit shirts to promote positive support of each school.    
Turlock High spirit shirts sold out last Friday, said Jeff Chapman, Turlock Associated Student Body president.  
Pitman High Pit-Crew shirts sold out of 400 shirts before the game, Ludlow said.  
Overall, the game was like any typical Friday night high school gridiron battle, with the efforts of TUSD administrators, Turlock High administrators and Pitman High administrators.   
“This is how most of the games have gone,” said Rod Hollars, Pitman High principal. “It is a good-spirited high school football game.”  
As the last seconds on the clock were being counted down, Pitman fans started the classic chant “hey, hey, hey good-bye,” only to gather on the field after their celebration to socialize with their friends from Turlock High.    
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.