To say the Harvest Bowl is unlike any other rivalry football game in high school sports would be an understatement.
The only two schools in a small, yet, growing town like Turlock, Pitman and Turlock high schools are less than five miles away from each other, but it is not just the proximity within the schools that seems close.
These young student-athletes grew up playing together from pee-wee till now, whether they know one another they definitely are familiar with each other through friends or family members from the community.
The point is this game seems to mean so much to not only the participants but the family members, staff, coaches and the people who are in the presence of the game, which can only explain the atmosphere in one way — unforgettable.
A tradition that began in 2004, the Pride have the all-time record in their favor having won eight of the 10 Bowl games.
Pitman has also won three consecutive over Turlock, with two of those games coming by less than three points in 2011 and 2013.
Each game, by average, has been decided by less than 10 points per game, with seven of the last 10 contests being decided by one touchdown or less.
This year’s matchup is unlike any other year, however, mainly because a guaranteed playoff berth is on the line.
Both teams will be fighting to clinch a berth in the postseason for the 2014 year after Merced clinched the Central California Conference on Friday.
Pitman is off to the second best start in school history, having gone 7-1 thus far.
With a season that was scheduled for 10 games but resulted in nine games, the Pride have played in one-less regular season game for the year, something that is very uncommon, but that won't affect their season.
It's simple, if Pitman wins, they clinch the second spot in the CCC and also a playoff berth, but if they lose, they finish third in the CCC and might still be able to crawl their way into the playoffs but that will not be announced till next week.
Turlock's playoff hopes are within reach, but the Bulldogs are in a must-win situation if they hope to move into the postseason, a loss would deteriorate their hopes and season.
Turlock, who has been very strong all season long, has also gone through an eerie year because all of their four losses have come by either contentious calls by the referees, questionable offensive play calling or even miscues on a single play that made the difference for the game.
All of Turlock's losses have come by a combined 11 points, losing by less than 2.75 points per game on average.
Each of the four opponents, Modesto, Oakdale, Tracy and Merced High have a combined record of 29-7 for the season heading into the final week of the year.
Oakdale and Modesto are 8-1. Modesto's only loss was to Downey High, which Pitman beat in week 1 earlier in the year.
What does this mean? Well not only can any team win at any given night, but it also means that this game cannot be overlooked by Turlock's strength of schedule because Pitman never goes down without a fight.
In fact, Pitman's only loss came at the hands of Merced, which Turlock has also lost to, but Pitman lost by 41 points in that contest, which is more points than all of Turlock's four losses combined.
So, check out a high school football like none other at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Joe Debely Stadium when Pitman (7-1) and Turlock (5-4) will face off in the 11th annual Harvest Bowl.