Buhach Colony has played its share of big games the past three seasons.
It's hard to avoid them when you win two straight conference titles and make two deep runs in the playoffs.
The Thunder (1-0 Central California Conference, 4-2 overall) will gear up for another one tonight when it travels to Veterans Stadium to face Merced (1-0, 4-2) in a CCC showdown.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30.
Buhach Colony plays under a big spotlight for the third consecutive week. The Thunder's last three games have come against state-ranked Serra of San Mateo, Pitman and now Merced.
"I think it's a mental thing," Thunder head coach Kevin Swartwood said. "There's physical issues, which all teams have. You have to be up and ready to play your best game week after week. We've played a ranked team, a league favorite and now another league favorite. It's tough, but you have to understand you have to fight through it."
Tonight's game has a big-game feel. Expecting a big crowd, Merced has been pre-selling tickets since Wednesday.
"I'm biased, but I don't think there is anything like it," Scheidt said. "It's special for the kids to get the opportunity to play in games like this. It's significant not just for them, but the people in attendance. The energy level is going to be really high."
The Thunder are 28-4 in their last 32 games, including 11-0 in the CCC. However, Buhach's two wins over Merced the past two seasons have been tightly contested.
The Thunder also come into tonight with a banged up secondary with Joe Marquez and Tyler Dew nursing injuries.
The Bears' receivers are a tough matchup for any team.
Bradley Adamson, Keith Bolden, David Keys and Travante Richard are fast, athletic and tall. Bears quarterback Eli Gutierrez has passed for 1,162 yards and 19 touchdowns.
"It's the same thing that concerns me with Merced every year," Swartwood "All four guys are athletic and their quarterback is outstanding. We know they're going to throw a lot. We're working hard on it. We expect it."
Meanwhile, the Bears will do their best to slow down the Thunder rushing attack.
Stefon Gold torched Pitman last week for 179 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
"You look at them on film and in terms of effort, they play hard. They get after it," Scheidt said. "They have experience at the skill positions and that's what every coach wants.
"Those guys have been in big games and they've all handled the ball in big games."