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Pitman, Delhi, Turlock, Hilmar and Denair football eyeing playoff bids
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Pitman (6-0), Delhi (6-0), Hilmar (5-1), Turlock (5-2) and Denair (4-2) varsity football are off to fantastic starts to their seasons and it has done nothing but make the year that much more exciting for our coverage area and the community.


As we take a look at these teams after week seven, we can only hope that they continue to flourish and improve as the season progresses, but there is no question that all sights are set on playoff runs for five of the six teams.


I think it is only fair to admire what these athletes have been able to do thus far. From Pitman and Delih's perfect start to Denair amassing more wins than they had all of last year with just 14 players on the field.


Hilmar and Turlock also look to be on the verge of perhaps a respective league title, but let's just keep our fingers crossed they continue to stay healthy.


With that being said, let’s take a look at five of these teams after week seven.


Pitman: The Pride are off to a 6-0 start for only the second time in three seasons and finds itself at the midst of a milestone with their upcoming contest against Buhach Colony. The Pride have won 99 games in 13 varsity seasons and can capture their 100th win in program history if they can top BC. The team will have to rely heavily on their defense which has helped them stay in games and also the unstoppable force that is Devan Bass. Pitman's close games have been a tribute to their resilience and durability, especially late in the game when they have made surges to win games. It all started with the Downey game in week 1 when they scored 21 unanswered points in the second half and shutout Downey in the final quarters. Since then, they have made a living in the second half, or fourth quarter, causing teams to shut down while flourishing with the help of Bass as the utility skill player for the Pride.


Delhi: Delhi has won their first six games of the season for the first time in program history and can tie the program record for wins in a season this upcoming Friday at home against Le Grand, a team that Denair beat 50-0 with just a dozen players active for the game. Delhi's big assistance has come from the entire squad, most importantly the line, but much praise has continued to be given to Jesse Flores, the two-way starter who has helped guide the Hawks with his four-year varsity experience. He has been nearly unstoppable on both sides of the ball and is an intimidating force for the opposing teams to face. Through five games, he has rushed for 572 yards and nine touchdowns, while registering a team-high 62 tackles as a defensive linemen. With Alecxis Miranda, Fabian Garcia and Alvin Prasad helping out the offense, there is no question that the defense will have to keep their momentum up as well, especially if they hope to continue their streak. From this point forward the Hawks are walking around with a target on their backs, something they are not used to.


Turlock: Turlock's only two losses are to teams that are still undefeated after week seven. Clovis (6-0) and Freedom (6-0) are also ranked in the top 50 in California according to maxpreps. The Bulldogs have been able to win five consecutive games since their two losses and have came out firing away in the Central California Conference, starting off 3-0 heading into their fourth league contest against a winless Atwater team. The Bulldogs will have to continue to rely on Danny Velasquez, but with the emergence of Cam Sherwood and Dustin Grein, they should look to lean more to these juniors heading into the final stretch of the year if they wish to compete for a CCC title and maybe more. Head coach James Peterson is confident in his team, but knows that the road is far from over, especially since the 'Dogs still have Merced and Pitman coming up.


Hilmar: The Yellowjackets are off to their best start since the 2013 season when the team went 13-0. It won't be an easy task to win for the remainder of the year since running back Josh Jennings was ruled out for the year after a week one injury. Since then, the Yellowjackets have had to rely on two-way starter Cody Rentfro to take the majority of the carries, which was unexpected when the year began. Fortunately for Hilmar, they have a few standouts including Justin Rentfro, Wyatt Amaral and Tyler Amarante, who have played the majority of their snaps at the linebacker position. With the help of a plethora of defensive linemen, the 'Jackets have started 5-1 in big part to their physical and aggressive style of play especially up front but will have to continue the same intensity if they wish to win the TVL.


Denair: The Coyotes of Denair are off to their best start since starting 6-3 in 2010. The Coyotes have shutout two of its first three league opponents, including back-to-back shutouts as they have outscored its last two opponents, 82-0 with limited varsity players and have outscored their first six opponents overall with 214 points, while allowing 74, including two back-to-back shutouts by the defense. The team is down to 14 players from 16 to begin the season, but their 32-0 win over Ripon Christian last Friday erased doubt that the Coyotes would not be a Southern Athletic League contender. Brenden Curnow, Chase Pritt and Justin Steeley are just three of the standouts for the Coyotes who have really stepped up their game from a year ago and much of the praise is coming from head coach Anthony Armas and his staff. This year, the team has position coaches, which has made it easier for Armas and the athletes have bought into the system Armas adds.