It has been nearly a year since the last Harvest Bowl and after every season it seems like the excitement and hype only continue to grow between Turlock’s two high schools.
Both schools come to the game with outstanding athletic departments that have flourished in all areas, especially football.
Although Pitman is still the “newer” school in town, they have owned bragging rights over Turlock on the football field since the game began in 2004, earning an 8-3 record heading into their 12th meeting.
When each side laces up their cleats, puts their pads on, and dons their helmets tonight, they will begin a journey into the future, because this game is such an important part of their lives and of the community and will be so for years to come.
The community never forgets these games; it is always a sellout crowd. If you live in Turlock there is a chance somebody you know will be there because the game is that important and just that good.
Last year's contest was easy to predict because Pitman had little varsity experience when compared to Turlock’s team, but this is a new year.
Last year Pitman was held to only a nine-game regular season as opposed to the 10 that all teams are scheduled and this year the tables were turned and it was Turlock who had to suspend a game and limit their season to only nine games this year.
Maybe it’s an idea that the opposites will occur. Then again, I am, like many athletes, superstitious.
Before last year's win, Pitman had won three consecutive bowl games but there is no question they will come out and look to stop a second consecutive win from happening, since, if it happens, it would be the first time Turlock has defeated Pitman in consecutive years.
Most of the recent games have been tight. It’s a cross-town game, so expect to see perhaps one of the most dead even matchups we have seen.
The numbers are nearly deadlock and each team has a 3-1 record each in the CCC. Plus it's apparent that aside from Merced, who beat both teams earlier in the year, Pitman and Turlock are without question the next two best teams in the CCC this year.
The state rankings have been consistent all year for the Pride and Bulldogs, each staying in the top 200 in California heading into the final week of the regular season.
Heading into the game, Pitman is ranked 141 and Turlock (105) was booted out of the 100 after losing to Merced a week prior.
But, the stat that stands out to me is that Turlock has never won back-to-back games which really shows the fight and grittiness that the Pitman Pride has always competed with after one of the few losses.
Basically, on paper, it looks as if Pitman might have the upper hand on the football field—for now.
But with a stout defense like Turlock has this year, it won’t be easy since Pitman’s front seven, especially the defensive line is perhaps the best in the league. Pitman has a banged up backfield, but Turlock is also missing key players on both sides of the ball so they have that in common as well.
This year is a unique matchup because both teams have already clinched postseason berths, but the winner will be the number two seed from the CCC and quite possibly acquire a higher seeding in the postseason bracket—so a win is vital.
If you like football and one of the area’s best rivalries, then you better suit up and head to Joe Debely tonight for what will be perhaps the regular season game of the year for the CCC without question.
On Friday nights anything is possible.
Harvest Bowl XII is scheduled to take place at Joe Debely at 7:30 p.m. tonight.