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Pitman, Denair football fall in season openers; Hilmar impresses in competitive league
Hilmar football
Sophomore running back Canon Ireland avoids defenders in Hilmar's 35-19 victory over Atwater on Friday (Photo by AnnaMarie Silveira).

The Pitman High varsity football team came within one touchdown of starting off their season with a victory on Friday night, but in the end fell to Enochs High 30-24.

“The players showed a lot of fight and a lot of heart and passion for the game,” Pitman head coach Lance Weckerle said. “There were times in the game where things were going well and during the times where things weren’t going as well, they responded with good poise and composure and kept fighting.”

It was a back and forth between the two schools which ultimately ended in the Eagles’ favor, but not without a battle from the Pride. Highlights from the game included a 30-yard touchdown run from senior running back Sergio Romo — Pitman’s first score of the game in the second quarter — as well as a 90-yard kickoff return just minutes later by sophomore Joey Stout. Senior quarterback Jarod Moren had a touchdown of his own, a one-yard carry on 4th and 1 in the third quarter. 

Pitman football
Running back Joey Stout had a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Pitman's loss to Enochs last week. (Photo by Kyle Tran)

“I thought we did some things well, and I thought we did some things we could improve,” Weckerle said, giving props to his front six on defense. “Defensively we stopped the run pretty well, and offensively we ran the ball well. We just didn’t do well enough on converting third downs to keep our drives going.”

Pitman had a couple of chances to win in the game’s final moments, Weckerle said, but he was still impressed with his team’s first showing of the season.

“We had the ball twice within the last minutes of the game to try and win, but we weren’t able to close it out,” he said. “You can’t ask for much more of a fight than that in your first game back.

Romo finished the game with 101 rushing yards on nine carries and one touchdown, averaging 11.2 yards per carry. This week, the Pride will take on Gregori High at 7 p.m. Friday from joe Debely Stadium. 

Hilmar High kicked off its challenging five-game season on Friday with a victory over Central California Conference team Atwater High, 35-19. The small school Yellowjackets typically play in the Trans-Valley League, but moved into the CCC with much larger schools during the pandemic-affected season. 

“It was a really big win for our program,” Hilmar head coach Frank Marques said. 

Hilmar’s goal coming into the game against Atwater was to stay as mistake free as possible. Turnovers were the difference in the game, Marques said, with the Yellowjackets committing just one through four quarters. 

Senior quarterback Seth Miguel threw for three touchdowns on the night, and on the defensive side of the ball, Owen Vega and Lane Cardoso both returned interceptions for touchdowns. 

“It was really good to see the kids perform,” Marques said, noting that kicker Andre Alves also had a great game and gave Hilmar excellent field position throughout the night. 

Going into halftime of the game, the Falcons took the wind out of the Yellowjackets’ sails with a touchdown late in the second quarter which gave Hilmar just a one-score lead. Marques told the team they needed to establish themselves in the third quarter and they did, scoring 21 unanswered points in the first four minutes of the second half.

After the victory, Hilmar is preparing for more difficult opponents down the road. The challenging season continues 7 p.m. this Friday when the Yellowjackets take on Buhach Colony at home.

“We got over one obstacle, and now we have two monsters we have to stare at over the next two weeks: Buhach and Merced,” Marques said. 

The season didn’t start out exactly how the Denair High Coyotes had hoped it would, following a 49-6 loss to Orestimba High on Friday night.

With most of the team made up of sophomores, head coach Anthony Armas knew his young squad may have difficulty in the season opener thanks to inexperience combined with little preparation.

Denair football
Denair High fell to Orestimba High 49-6 following their season opener on Friday (Photo contributed).

“We didn’t have any scrimmages and I think that was a big deal,” Armas said. “We just had a lot of, basically, trial by fire where the kids really got in there and are just kind of learning as they go and our first game was against a pretty darn good team.”

Junior running back Harley Padilla scored the lone touchdown of the game for the Coyotes in the third quarter. The team had difficulty moving the ball much against the Warriors, Armas said, until Orestimba’s second string was in the game.

“In hindsight we shouldn’t have been surprised…but you know, you kind of hope for something a little bit better,” Armas said. “I think we’ll rebound. We definitely have some things to fix, but they’re fixable.

The Coyotes will look to turn things around in their home opener at 6 p.m. this Friday against Weston Ranch.