We’ve arrived at the mid-way point of the Central California Conference prep football season. Two league games down and three more to go and it’s already make-or-break for a few CCC teams.
Without a doubt, Turlock High is one of those teams. After going 4-1 in pre-league competition, the Bulldogs were defeated in convincing fashion by Merced High before losing a one-point game in overtime to the typically maligned Golden Valley Cougars last Friday. With a propensity to allow big plays at the worst time and having already allowed 75 points to be scored against them, Turlock’s defense must right the ship and shore up its secondary if they are to turn the season around — and it starts tonight against Atwater High.
The Bulldogs need to beat the Falcons along with Buhach Colony and Pitman High — all of which are currently tied for second place in the league — if they are to keep their fate in their hands and have a shot at the post-season. Defense alone won’t get the job done, however, as Sean Downs, Jevan Hogan, and Bubba Moreno will be tasked with lighting up the scoreboard for Turlock on the offensive side of the ball.
Tonight’s game will also define the rest of the season for the Pride. After going 4-1 in pre-league play and dropping its league opener in a close 10-0 game to the Thunder, Pitman responded with a dominant 35-14 performance against Atwater last Friday. The win kept the Pride’s post-season hopes alive and set up arguably the most important game of the year in the CCC so far.
Pitman can keep its dreams for a CCC title alive if it can hand Merced its first league loss tonight. It won’t be an easy challenge, though, as the Bears are undoubtedly still fired up from last week’s upset victory over three-time defending league champions Buhach Colony in a 41-20 win that snapped the Thunder’s 16-game win streak in the CCC.
It all starts with offense, as the Pride have struggled to match their pre-league output where they averaged 48.6 points a game. So far they’ve only scored 35 league points. The key will be a complimentary offensive attack of sustained rushing from the likes of Logan Wofley, Drew Lewis, and Mario Lewis and accurate passing from Wyatt Clapper to sure-handed receivers.
Aside from the Pride, the Thunder would benefit most from a Merced loss tonight. Barring another upset loss tonight, this time at the hands of the Cougars, Buhach Colony will find itself in the thick of a CCC title hunt if Merced falls. If Pitman fails to defeat Merced, the Bears will all but wrap up a 2013 championship season leaving the rest of the field to worry about playoffs.