The way Brandon Harris sees it, there might not need to be a Harvest Bowl this year.
That’s not to say he doesn’t want to coach his Pitman High football team Friday night. It’s just that this time, he says, Turlock High is anticipated to win the yearly event, where the two big Turlock high schools collide for the seventh time.
The crosstown rivalry game, which is also the regular season finale, takes place at Joe Debely Stadium on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Pride are the designated home team.
“I’m kind of relaxed this year, more than years past,” said Harris, who’s in his sixth year as the head coach and has been part of many Harvest Bowl wins. “We’re supposed to get creamed this year. That’s kind of a different role for us. There’s been games where we may have been favored by a little or there were some where they were favored by a little.
“This is the first one where everybody is expecting us to get beat pretty good.”
But it’s the Pride who have ruled the Harvest Bowl, owning a 5-1 advantage since the series started in 2004. Their only imperfection was a 7-0 loss two years ago.
The Pride said they’re not preparing for Turlock any differently, though they know their opponent is a much-improved team from last season. Back then, the Bulldogs went 0-10, a disappointing run that included a 40-6 thumping to the Pride.
And if Turlock was looking for any more motivation to win, the Bulldogs might have found it in a 17-10 loss to Atwater High, which was winless before last week.
“They’re mad, so they’re going to take out their anger on us,” Pitman quarterback AJ Derr stated.
Pitman has remained a tough challenge throughout the season, after losing a closer-than-it-looks 48-36 loss to Modesto High in the season opener. The biggest disappointment, however, came on Oct. 15, when the Pride got blown out by Central California Conference winner Buhach Colony, 52-21.
Now, Pitman is 7-2 overall and 3-1 in the CCC. A win over Turlock (2-2 CCC, 7-2) would give the Pride second place in the league standings, while improving their seeding in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs. Of course, a win would also mean bragging rights.
“We’re not trying to make (it) into too much hype,” wide receiver David Gianesin said, “but we want to get the pressure out by being ready.”
And Harris said he’s having his players look at Turlock just like any other team in the CCC.
“I’m just trying to go at it like another game,” Harris added. “I know it’s cliché, but we’re preparing for them the same way. We’re not preparing any harder. I feel like we try to prepare hard for everybody.”
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