Soon after Friday night’s game was over, the Pitman High football team, commanded by junior defender Nick Renteria, charged toward the crowded home side of Joe Debely Stadium.
Renteria got up on the railing and began pumping his arms. His antics caused quite a commotion, with fans roaring back and his teammates, who were surrounding him, doing the exact same thing. On this night, the Pride had a lot to cheer about.
Their opponent, Oakland Tech, was not much of a threat in the nonconference game, as the Pride easily collected a 42-6 win with an all-around dominant performance. The Pride’s offensive line restrained all blitzes, while the ground attack had five rushing touchdowns, two of them for more than 43 yards. And Renteria, who led the postgame celebration, finished with a handful of sacks.
The win also granted the Pride a 4-0 record, the program’s best start since the school began varsity football in 2004.
“The kids are playing well,” said Brandon Harris, who became the Pride’s head coach in 2006. “I’m happy with 4-0, obviously.”
No other Pride team has been able to this. Not even the one with Colin Kaepernick, now an NFL quarterback. At the same time, Harris said this year’s preseason schedule isn’t loaded with giants like Granite Bay High.
“We’ve been 3-1, but back in the old days,” he added, “we opened up with Granite Bay and those guys and we’d get a loss.”
To start Friday’s game, the Pride looked like they could defeat anyone. Their first touchdown came after less than 4 minutes elapsed, thanks to Andres Mendez’s 9-yard march to the end zone. It was 28-0 after three quarters. And by the fourth quarter, when the Pride were well ahead at 42-6, referees established a running clock.
“We just wanted to come out fast,” Renteria said. “We knew we were going to be tested this week. We had a chip on our shoulders with stuff that happened. We’re a family, and that’s the way we’re going to keep playing.”
The Pride’s only slip up came with 4 minutes, 51 seconds left in the third quarter, when Oakland Tech (1-1) scored a meaningless touchdown. It was already Pitman’s game by then.
Besides Mendez’s score, Tyler Arnsberg (nine rushes, 115 yards, one 58-yard TD), AJ Derr (two rushes, one TD) and Kody Brackett (six rushes, 164 yards, two TDs) also contributed to the running attack.
Derr also had a 6-yard TD pass to Mendez.
“We knew we had to come out and smack them in the mouth,” said Arnsberg. “They’re a very physical team, so we came out and the line blocked everything. They picked up all the blitzes. It all goes to the line. Everything goes to the line. We scored because of them.”
Who are these unsung heroes? Well, their names are tackles Emanuel Rodriguez and Ivan Delgado, guards Ken Acasio and Diego Camorlinga and center Daven Racz, while Mino Moua rotates in as tight end with Dakota Selfridge and Renteria.
“I was really happy with the O-line,” said Harris, whose Pride will face 1-2 Franklin High in Stockton on Friday night. “They were blitzing a lot. We practiced against that every week. We thought we’d see that from them.”
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