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Pride scrimmage Gregori on practice field
Pitman 1
Pitman's Chris Martinez blocks a Gregori lineman during Saturday's scrimmage at Pitman High. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

Saturday marked the unofficial kickoff for the 2016 high school football season as teams from across the Stanislaus District and beyond finally had the opportunity to go against another opponent in various scrimmages spread throughout the area.


These games provide the coaches with a solid assessment of their squad for the upcoming year and for Pitman, they were just happy to leave the scrimmage against Gregori with no major injuries after hosting them on Saturday.


“We came out healthy and I think that is the biggest thing is we didn't come away with any injuries and that is what you want,” said Pitman head coach Tom Tyler.


The scrimmage that ran for a little over one hour and 15 minutes saw the Pride's first strong offense get 10 plays in — but no scores were made for either side.


“You always want to see us not make many mental mistakes and I think we did that in the first series on offense and defense,” said Tyler. “It was mainly the bad angles since the game is sped up and in practice it's different, but we improved majorly when we had the ball the second time.”


The second string defense boasted some sparks for the Pride, but it wasn't until the starters came in the second time around that a touchdown was made.


It took five plays and AJ Encalade ran the ball down up the middle and down the left side where Chris Martinez was blocking.


With the help of Martinez and the rest of the line, the Pride were able to start off their second drive with 20-plus yards on two quick rushes.


“I thought the second time around when we had the ball we did really good job and played up to the capabilities that we have. The first time I thought we were a little tentative,” said Tyler. “It's the beginning and it's always tough then, but I was real happy with how we did, I thought we did a good job.”


When the Gregori offensive starters took the field for the second time, Pitman's defense did well up front but allowed a touchdown in the fifth play, just like Pitman did when they had the ball.


The series ended with a batted ball by Pitman's defensive backs.


The defense, with the help of Brandon Pacheco, helped limit the big plays from Gregori in the second series, allowing just one yard in their first three plays before allowing back-to-back big plays.


“I was watching Brandon Pacheco doing a really good job and AJ Encalade did well offensively and defensively and flew to the ball pretty well, I think we can do better, honestly,” said Tyler.


There was a total of 65 plays ran for the entire scrimmage, and everyone including the backups managed to get playing time.


“We had a couple juniors line up on defense but I was real pleased with them all playing well,” said Tyler. “I was happy with the second team who might have to step up. We moved the ball well and everyone played well and we just have to get after people and get better.”


The Pride will have to be at their best when they host the Downey Knights of the Modesto Metro Conference on Friday.


“I think Downey is pretty good to be honest with you. They have some size and have a real good quarterback and have some guys who can catch,” said Tyler. “Downey is a whole new animal because they will try to run 100 plays and try to run 60 times or so, but we will have to be ready for that.”


The time and place of Pitman's scheduled opener against Downey was still uncertain as of press time due to the closing of Turlock's Joe Debely field.