Pitman High football coach Tom Tyler went into the 2014 season worried about his team’s youth. He also went into Friday’s Central California Conference opener against Buhach Colony concerned about the Pride’s lack of experience.
Maybe Tyler worries too much.
Pitman put together an impressive performance at Joe Debely Stadium on Friday, rolling past Buhach Colony 34-13 behind a big-play offense and a swarming defense.
“I’m real proud of the guys,” Tyler said. “I wasn’t sure how we would play going in. I thought we played really well.”
The Pride (5-0, 1-0 CCC) dominated the Thunder (3-3, 1-1) on both sides of the ball, getting long scoring plays on one side and stifling Buhach Colony’s offense on the other.
Junior running back Ryan Yniquez didn’t carry the ball often (only five times), but when he did he made it count. The 5-foot-8, 155-pounder scored Pitman’s first touchdown on a 65-yard run, then gave the Pride a 21-6 lead with a 60-yard TD scamper with five minutes left in the first half.
“The holes were wide open,” Yniquez said. “All I had to do was run.”
Pitman took that 21-6 lead into halftime, but it looked as if Buhach Colony was going to make a run at the Pride after scoring on its first drive of the second half. Justin Stefani’s 10-yard touchdown run capped a long drive and pulled the Thunder to within 21-13.
But the Pride responded quickly and efficiently, with junior quarterback Matt Carrigg hitting junior wide receiver Micah Millentree for a 53-yard touchdown play that essentially put the game away. Black McBay closed out the scoring with the second of his two TD runs, bowling in from a yard out in the four Pitmanth quarter.
Buhach Colony coach Kevin Navarra lamented the way his defense gave up big plays.
“We had issues with guys being out of position and some bad tackling,” said Navarra, whose team returns to the same field next week to take on Turlock. “On Monday we have to get back to basics.”
The victory over Buhach Colony sets up Pitman for a showdown next week against Merced, the overwhelming preseason favorite to win the CCC.
Pitman had only four non-league games going into Friday night’s matchup. But Tyler said playing the week before the CCC opener, rather than having a bye as his team had last year, made a difference.
“I felt like we were rusty last year,” Tyler said.
There was no rust this time, and no reason to be worried about a lack of senior leadership, either.
The Pride defense stifled just about everything the Thunder tried on offense. Only Stefani had success, getting 135 yards and the TD on 17 carries.
And Pitman’s junior quarterback, Carrigg, is showing he’s more than capable of running the offense, getting everyone involved in the action. Senior running back Quentin Hernandez rushed for 109 yards on 17 carries, McBay finished with 63 yards on 15 carries, and Yniquez had 129 yards on five carries.
The Pitman offense all goes through Carrigg, though, and he had Buhach Colony scratching its head for most of the night.
“I though Matt Carrigg played really well,” Tyler said. “He’s got it figured out.”
It appears as if the rest of the Pride has, too.