The great thing about falls sports was that it gave fans enough opportunities to watch and admire local athletes. And this season, they gained a lot of memories.
That’s what happens when there are seven sports available for viewing.
Football, cross country, girls tennis, girls golf, volleyball, boys soccer and water polo all had its special moments. Some were rewarding, some were disappointing and some were bittersweet.
Here’s a look at my favorite fall sports moments:
Turlock football: I have to start this list with the redeemed Bulldogs, after going 0-10 last season. With a dual-threat quarterback in Kevin Kramer and a talented group of underclassmen, Turlock gradually garnered respect week after week in wins over dangerous small-school program Oakdale High and Modesto High, considered the top large-school program for much of the 2010 season. Besides losing a close game to Buhach Colony, the Bulldogs hit a major speed bump against Atwater High, which was previously winless before upsetting Turlock late in the season. But the Bulldogs managed to bounce back with a big-time win over crosstown rival Pitman High before landing in the playoffs for the first time in seven years under second-year coach James Peterson.
Pitman volleyball: On Nov. 9, the Pride reached a milestone. They traveled to Elk Grove to top higher seed Monterey Trail in four sets to achieve the school’s first playoff win in volleyball. It was a special moment because not only did the Pride win as underdogs, but coach Kristen Pontes also believed it marked a turning point for her program to achieve more postseason triumphs.
Turlock girls golf: Pure dominance. That’s one way to describe the Bulldogs’ run in the Central California Conference, something they won for the seventh consecutive time this season. And they did it with a young team, meaning Turlock will likely have more standout seasons in the coming years under coach Mary Krupka.
Pitman football: Besides Turlock’s turnaround year, the Pride were once again a big story of the football season, with the emphasis being on the program’s consistency despite being around only since 2003. Brandon Harris had another senior-heavy team that went 7-3 during the regular season, thanks in part to a stable of solid running backs. The Pride also gave the Bulldogs a scare in the CCC finale before falling 21-16.
Turlock boys soccer: The Bulldogs did something rare this season, and that was making the playoffs for the first time in seven years. For other teams, qualifying for the postseason is a common occurrence. Turlock appreciated playing beyond the postseason, as the Bulldogs gave it all they had in a 1-0 loss to Lodi in the Section Division I Tournament opener.
Hilmar boys soccer: Simply, the Yellowjackets dominated foes in their return to the Trans-Valley League, only losing to Escalon once and finishing with an 11-1 league record. They had high hopes going into the playoffs, but it ended in heartbreaking fashion. In the Section Division V opener, the Yellowjackets lost to Capital Christian after a nighttime shootout.
Other special moments: What comes to mind is Denair boys soccer making a late playoff run; Hilmar girls golf winning its first-ever league title; Turlock Christian girls golfer Kathleen Rojas coming within three strokes of making the NorCal Championships; Pitman’s Frank Finch and Jami Ford and Turlock’s Jorge Guzman finishing in the top of the CCC Championships; Hilmar volleyball returning to the playoffs; Turlock girls tennis reaching the semifinals of the Section Division I Tournament; both Turlock boys and girls water polo teams winning their respective league titles; and Hilmar and Denair football having solid playoff-bound seasons.
Now, it’s time for some basketball and wrestling.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.