This Friday Pitman High School’s football team will journey to Oak Ridge where they are set to face Pleasant Grove High School in the quarterfinals of the Division I CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. The Pride (10-1) will take advantage of the long trip, using the time to gather their thoughts and emotions as they focus on the task at hand; defeating the defending champion Eagles (10-1).
Last week the Pride dominated West High School with their impressive and explosive backfield. That same intensity must translate into this week’s game if they plan on advancing to the next round of playoffs.
“They’re good all across the board, so we’re just going to have to run hard and try to get two bodies on some guys and push the pile,” head coach Brandon Harris said. “We have to win with the big plays against those guys.”
Pleasant Grove’s talent extends from offense to defense. The Eagles’ offense has averaged 302 yards and 55.5 points a game thanks to the exploits of running back Mark Jenkins, who ran for 1,503 yards this season, and quarterback Cody Demps, who has a season total of 1,470 passing yards.
“Anytime you can’t stop the run it’s a problem,” Harris said. “We have to stop Jenkins first and foremost and then rally to the quarterback.”
Pitman must also nullify Pleasant Grove’s defense, which has held nine of its 11 opponents to two touchdowns or less. To do so the Pride will continue to do what they’ve done all season; rely heavily on their running game and ability to execute.
“We’re going to try and slow them down. Hopefully our offense can control the clock,” Harris said. “I think our offense will be our best defense.”
Unfortunately, the Pride will have to do so without one of their key players, junior running back and two year starter Andres Mendez, who suffered a torn MCL during last week’s win.
“It hurts because he’s been there all year; but we have capable guys,” Harris said. “We’re just going to miss his leadership.”
Regardless of who is on the field, Pitman is still confident and excited to play on Friday as they attempt to reach the semifinals for the first time in school history.
Hilmar hosts Livingston’s Wolves
It’s a short trip for Livingston High School’s football team this week when they travel to Hilmar High School on Friday for the second round of the Division IV CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
The Yellowjackets (9-2) and Wolves (6-5) are heated rivals with a shared history of 20 years in the Trans Valley League.
“We know from experience that we can’t underestimate Livingston,” head coach Frank Marques said. “It would be foolish to do that.”
Hilmar is coming off a dominant performance against Linden High School where they displayed an even attack of passing and running. They will look to do more of the same against a Livingston team fresh off a huge win against higher seeded Ripon High School.
“Livingston is a high quality team. We’re going to try and contain them,” Marques said. “We want to be 60/40 pass to run.”
The Wolves will rely on runners Francisco Perez and Adrian Muniz who have a combined 1,475 yards on the season. The Yellowjackets are no strangers to strong runners though and feel confident in their ability to overcome Livingston’s rushing game.
“We’re in a running league,” Marques said. “Our defense has faced a lot of running teams. That’s really what our defense is geared for.”
To contact Frankie Tovar, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.