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Football teams prepare for week 1 with scrimmages
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Sergio Romo of Pitman High runs the ball during Friday's scrimmage at Hilmar High against the Yellowjackets (Photo contributed by Anna Silveira).

This week marked the official start of the prep football season and local teams got their first feel for competition with scrimmages.

Turlock went to a Saturday round robin with three other schools; the state champion Denair Coyotes scrimmaged Johansen and Mariposa; Hughson took on Ceres; and Pitman traveled down the road to take on defending state champions Hilmar High.

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Justin Barros of Hilmar High runs the ball for the Yellowjackets during last Friday's scrimmage against Pitman High from home (Photo contributed by Anna Silveira).

Denair showed up at Johansen ready to showcase their talent from their state title run a year ago. 

The scrimmage was time-based as they ran eight-minute sessions for their first team offense and defense. 

"I think we are ready for week one. Things went about as expected for a scrimmage,” said Denair head coach Anthony Armas. “We did some good things. We did some bad things. We're a senior heavy group and I think most of our kids are ready to get the season rolling."

Denair will open up the season at home against Millennium at 7:30 p.m. Friday. 

Small school Hughson, which is getting ready to take on Division-II Stagg High in week one, traveled down the road to scrimmage Ceres High in what has become a friendly rivalry, said Huskies head coach Shaun King. 

“I kind of built a relationship with them over there, and we do our thing, work on some plays… went at our pace, which we all enjoy,” said King. “We went with time, 15 plays, 15 minutes… little bit of scheduled, but if we wanted to slow something and go over it, we did.” 

They did PAT, field goals, field goal block and goal-line. Even a two-minute drill said King. 

“My ultimate goal was to come out healthy, we did, and wanted to show effort and pursue and have a nose for the ball. We worked on run and pass, we had refs out there, and to see if we could move the ball,” said King. 

Hughson will take on Stagg High on the road at 7:15 p.m. Friday.
“One heck of a test this Friday night, but I think we will be best prepared, as they will be too,” King added. 

Hughson’s league foe Hilmar High hosted last year’s second place team in the Central California Athletic League, Pitman High. 

Last fall, Pitman made history with a 9-0 start, leading up to the Harvest Bowl.

“I thought we did very well; it is not how we do against the team, but ourselves. I expect us to be perfect and if not, I like to look at it and fix it. There are things to fix,” said Marques. “I’m happy with the team… they are so disciplined and I am very happy with the scrimmage and we found weaknesses we had to fix and that is what it is all about.” 

Hilmar is off a Sac-Joaquin Section Division-VI Championship and a state (D-VI AA) title, but head coach Frank Marques always has high expectations. 

“They are very talented, they executed at a high level, what they do on offense is difficult to defend since they have so many options, it is hard to cover three things at one time,” said Pitman head coach Lance Weckerle. 

Both Pitman and Hilmar’s first team offense and defense ran 15 plays apiece. 

After both first teams were done, each offense had notched just a pair of scores, tying the game at 14-14.

“We went out and competed, I thought we did a good job competing,” said Weckerle. “Everyone talks about us being young but just means it is not much varsity experience, but they made quick adjustments and listened well. With some new things, they were able to play fast, and for the most part I think our players played fast.” 

Pitman kicks off the season on the road at Clovis North at 7 p.m. on Friday. 

Hilmar will open up the season at home against Delhi High at 7 p.m. Friday. 

Turlock scrimmaged against Calaveras, Buhach Colony and Central Catholic High in a round robin at the Raiders home field. 

“What we do is a round robin where we all play each other, offense, defense and special teams as well,” said Turlock head coach James Peterson. “Good for us to play tough opponents.” 

They played two 10-minute periods for both the first team offense and defense, then the teams switched. 

This was followed by five-minute periods where they were able to work other groups in said Peterson. 

“I really like that aspect, to see the other guys,” said Peterson. “We definitely found some small issues and things we can work on and clean fundamentally. Fundamentals on defense and offense is executing your assignment, lot of little stuff. We might not always see it…when you play a tough opponent you notice little things and we got a chance to correct them and, hopefully, get over that hump and beat Freedom at home.” 

Turlock will host Freedom High at home at 7 p.m. Friday. 

“JV beat Freedom last year, but at varsity we have not beaten them, and this year we are focused on not letting it happen because it means a lot,” Peterson added. “Everyone is ready to go with pads, been a good summer, segway into our first game… excited to put this team out there and watch them play football.”