From the Harvest Bowl's opening kick-off, Joe Debely Stadium was rocking on Friday night. Heck, it was rocking two hours before game time, with more than 3,200 rabid fans screaming their lungs out.
Turlock's annual cross-town rivalry game, for once, lived up to expectations. But the Joe Debely crowd surpassed them.
Fans of Turlock High and Pitman High alike were on their feet throughout the close-fought game. They waved LED flashlights at one another. They pretended to ride an imaginary roller coaster.
And the Pride and Bulldog student cheering sections engaged in non-stop dueling chants.
Turlock High School fans led with “This is our house,” recognizing the Bulldogs' 100-plus year history of playing at Joe Debely Stadium.
The upstart Pitman High School Pride had a simple retort: “Scoreboard,” as they were ahead.
Turlock's boosters, still upset about sharing Joe Debely with their cross-town rivals, made their feelings toward the Pride clear with a boisterous chant of “Get your own field.”
But as Turlock fans' cheers died off as the clock wound down with the Pride in control of the game, Pitman fans drove a nail in the coffin with the dreaded “We can't hear you.”
It is, admittedly, easier to win a war of dueling chants when your team is ahead. But the Pitman fan base was consistently deafening, clearly winning the volume war as well.
Despite the feisty cheers and energetic high schoolers, Turlock police reported no incidents at the game. That's a major improvement from just a few years ago, when the game was fraught with fights and violence.
And despite the bitter rivalry between Turlock and Pitman, members of both teams joined together for a post-game prayer. It's just a sign of good sportsmanship, and that we are all brothers despite our differences, as one player said.