The Pitman High varsity football team may still be looking for their first win of the season following their 55-6 loss to Edison High in Stockton last Friday, but head coach Eric Reza is proud of his team for their resilience in a season already filled with ups and downs.
“It’s just been a weird year,” Reza said. “But if everything goes to plan, we’ll still have nine games.”
Despite five weeks of the 2021 football season taking place so far, the Pride have played only three games thanks to COVID-19 issues. The team had to cancel its Aug. 27 game against Lincoln High after too many athletes were quarantined due to virus exposure on campus, and Golden Valley rescheduled their Sept. 10 matchup with Pitman to Sept. 24 for the same reason.
With just two contests under their belt heading into Friday’s game against the Edison Vikings, the Pride struggled to click on offense while allowing 55 points for the second straight game.
“It’s tough, because you can’t substitute game speed and game situations in practice and we’re missing those games,” Reza said. “It’s not the same because it’s missing the adrenaline and the speed, then you have to factor in contact tracing and missing a guy or two.”
Costly mistakes on special teams early in the game by the Pride allowed the Vikings to jump ahead to an early 14-0 lead, and the Pride trailed 35-6 at halftime even though they were able to score once in the second quarter. Senior Evan Kiely and junior Drew Walker split time at quarterback once again for Pitman, and Reza said linebacker Emmanuel Lopez shined on defense despite the score.
“Our kids fought, and even some of the people from Edison were saying that they liked how we never gave up and they liked our grit,” Reza said. “We just kept competing until the very end, and that’s what I’m looking for — guys who want to compete no matter what the score is.”
Following their most recent loss, Pitman is now 0-3 on the season. Rather than the team’s originally scheduled bye week this Friday, Pitman will make up their game against Golden Valley at 7 p.m. on the road in Merced. Then, Central California Athletic League play will begin for the Pride on Oct. 1 against Turlock High (1-4) during the annual Harvest Bowl.
“I think with that game, you just throw everything out the window. It’s going to be kids competing as hard as we can, and I think no matter who’s on the field or what the situation is, that game just brings out the best in everyone,” Reza said.