The 2016 Pitman varsity football team has nothing to be ashamed of despite falling to No. 2 St. Mary's in the second of the Division I Sac-Joaquin Section tournament on Friday night in a 44-7 final.
“I have coached long enough to know nobody really knows what to expect but I can say we had great senior leadership on this team,” said Pitman head coach Tom Tyler. “They took ownership and we had kids to fill roles and they stepped up and did it at all positions and we had kids step up big time.”
Stepping up could be an understatement for a Pride team that started off their historic season with a 9-0 record for the first time in program history.
The team was led by University of Nevada-Reno bound tackle Chris Martinez, along with standouts Devan Bass, JT Mercer, Julian Barrera and Brendan Patterson to name a few.
They end their season with a 10-2 record for just the second time in program history after amassing the same record during the 2011 season under head coach Brandon Harris.
“When you win 10 games it certainly is a successful season,” said Tyler. “I knew many people didn't pay attention to us but I am real proud of how the kids played through the season.”
They played tough and Friday was no different.
Playing the No. 2 seed in the bracket and the No. 14 ranked team in California, the Pride weren't afraid of the challenge and instead decided to take on the Rams head on, despite the apparent size difference.
The Rams opened the game off with a scoring drive in their first possession in under one minute and 30 seconds and then the Pride took over, only on their fourth down punt they were able to force a fumble and recovered it.
They marched on an 11-play drive that ended with a Jacob Perez touchdown pass to Devan Bass for a corner score to tie it at 7-7 with 2:46 remaining in the first quarter.
“I knew that we had to control the ball and I knew we needed to not turn the ball over and finish drives. I thought we did a great job of that and really put a damper on things to end the first half,” said Tyler.
Unfortunately the Pride would not score again despite a few chances in the red zone.
The Rams hit a field goal from 25 yards out and scored a touchdown with 7:27 left in the first half to take a 17-7 lead.
The Pride went on one final drive with under 3:30 left in the second and after a dozen plays, Pitman was at the one yard line with one second remaining and an opportunity to cut the lead to one score.
The play began and the Pride had a player in motion only the referee blew the whistle and both teams froze for a few seconds, however the refs acted as the play was going.
The refs waved it off, leaving the Pride sideline in shock as the Rams players ran into the locker room.
“We put the guy in motion and the ref blew the whistle to start and we needed to redo it but the ref didn't want to, they were stubborn,” said Tyler of the contentious call. “I don't think it really cost us the game but really a lot of momentum. They did not want to change the call once St. Mary's ran off the field.”
The play lingered and the contentious calls were unfortunately just the start, however, the Pride held their own, holding St. Mary's to just 175 total yards in the first half.
“The game was closer than it appeared physically but that is a very good football team, one of the best I've seen in a while and our matchups, we didn't have the best matchups but I was real proud of the guys,” said Tyler. “A really good year.”
St. Mary's outscored Pitman in second half 27-0 and gained just over 200 yards of offense over two quarters, while Pitman amassed just 125 once again, tallying 250 yards of offense for the game.