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Turlock football continues dominance in historic Modesto rivalry
Pitman rebounds from Week 1 loss; Hilmar continues to impress
Hilmar football
Sophomore Cannon Irelan completes an 84-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Hilmar's victory over Buhach Colony on Friday (Photo by AnnaMarie Silveria).

The Turlock High varsity football team defeated longtime rival Modesto High on Friday night in a blowout victory, 74-13.

The Week 2 matchup between the Bulldogs and the Panthers was the 122nd time the two Central California Athletic League competitors have faced off on the gridiron — a rivalry which was renewed in 2018. 

Both Turlock and Modesto were charter members of the California Central Conference back in 1957 and played against each other until the 2003 season, when the following year it was announced that Modesto would join other schools in its city to form the Modesto Metro Conference. With the 2018 season’s Sac-Joaquin Section realignment, the former rivals were reunited in the CCAL.

Since then, the Bulldogs have outscored the Panthers 157-26 in league play. On Friday, Turlock led 62-7 by halftime. 

“We just always prepare to give our best, no matter who our opponent is...I didn’t know we could do what we did [on Friday], but I knew if we showed up and we played our brand of football then we could be successful and get the victory,” head coach James Peterson said. 

Thanks to the high-scoring effort by Turlock, Peterson was able to give students further down on the team’s depth chart a chance to get into the game. 

“The kids were concerned because Modesto is a good group of guys and they worried how people would perceive the score. They wanted people to know they weren’t running up the score, but they thought it was more respectful that we rotate our people in and keep playing,” Peterson said. “They said that if it was them, they’d want the other team to keep playing and that’s what we did.”

Sophomore Cole Gilbert and senior Dason Evans split time at quarterback once again during the game — a two-pronged approach to the position Peterson believes works in the Bulldogs’ favor.

“We like the young guy and we like what we’re getting out of Dason, too. Dason is more of a dual-threat quarterback whereas Gilbert is more of our pro-style quarterback,” he said. “It’s kind of neat to give a little changeup to the teams we face and make them prepare for two styles of quarterback.”

Now 2-0 on the season, Turlock will take on Enochs High (2-0) from Joe Debely Stadium at 7 p.m. this Friday.

The Pitman High varsity football team improved to 1-1 on the season after earning their first victory on Friday over Gregori High, 48-20. The effort involved the whole team, said head coach Lance Weckerle, who saw improvement from the Pride squad in several areas from last week. 

“After our loss the week before, I thought our defensive front did a good job at limiting [Gregori’s] ground game and the offensive line did a good job at getting our guys some space to run,” he said. 

The Pride were also just two for 12 on third down conversions in their Week 1 loss to Enochs, but this week were able to keep their drives alive by converting more frequently. Offensive weapons Sergio Romo and Joey Stout led the way for Pitman, with Romo scoring two rushing touchdowns and Stout picking up two of his own — one receiving and one rushing. Quarterback Jarod Moren threw two touchdown passes and kicker Evan Kiely made all six point-after attempts on the night in addition to two field goals. 

“It was a good team win,” Weckerle said. “Everybody contributed — it wasn’t just one guy.”

Pitman will play at 7 p.m. on Thursday this week, when they take on Modesto High from the Downey High stadium. 

At Hilmar High, head coach Frank Marques has dubbed his varsity football squad the “cardiac kids” after securing victories in the final moments of their first two games. On Friday, they defeated the much-larger Buhach High, 31-27, with a winning touchdown in the last seconds of the game. The Yellowjackets are now undefeated at 2-0 while playing amongst bigger schools in the Central California Conference. 

“The last two games just show how resilient they are. They just kept battling and in both games the fourth quarter was really big for us,” Marques said.

Hilmar was down by 10 points headed into the fourth quarter, and thanks to several clutch touchdowns — one, an 84-yard kickoff return by sophomore Cannon Irelan — they were able to secure the win. The winning touchdown from quarterback Seth Miguel found the hands of another star sophomore, Derek Taylor, with about seven seconds left.

Miguel was 13-25 on the night with 166 passing yards and two touchdowns, as well as a rushing touchdown of his own. This week, the Yellowjackets will travel to take on Merced High at 7 p.m. on Friday.

“I think the first two games have prepared us, but the one thing I'm really excited about is that this is all bonus for us,” Marques said. “Win or lose, it doesn’t matter; we’re playing, we’re having fun and winning is just icing on the cake.”