The ultimate goal for the Buhach Colony High football team this season is to make the playoffs. The Thunder haven’t participated in the postseason since 2012.
The next two games against Pitman and Merced will likely decide the Thunder’s playoff fate. Buhach Colony (4-3 overall, 2-1 Central California Conference) needs to win two of its final three games to reach the six-win total, which should clinch a playoff berth.
“If we’re truly a playoff team we’ll make a statement this week,” said Buhach Colony coach Kevin Navarra. “Our kids believe they can run the table. My job as a coach is to get them to take it one day at a time.”
The stretch run begins on Friday night with Buhach Colony hosting Pitman (3-3, 2-0) at Dave Honey Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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After an 0-2 start, the Thunder come into Friday’s big matchup winning four of their last five games. While the offense, which averages 36.3 points per game, garners most of the attention, it’s the improved play of the defense that has the Thunder believing they can snap their postseason drought.
Buhach Colony’s defense got off to a rough start this season, surrendering 109 points in the first two games of the season against high-powered offenses Downey and Tracy.
Since then, the Thunder have given up just over 21 points per game in the last five weeks.
“I think we’ve grown up a little bit,” Navarra said. “There’s been some maturity. We start a number of young guys.”
Navarra feels it takes a little longer for the young guys in the Thunder program to adjust to varsity speed on defense. The offensive side comes more natural because the players have been running the ‘fly’ since youth football.
The Thunder have been getting strong play up front on defense from Seth Duran, Leo Canchoa, Artavian Robinson and Johnny Lunsford.
That quartet will have to play physical for the Thunder defense to have success against Pitman.
“Pitman definitely has some size up front like Tracy,” Navarra said. “It’s going to be a challenge for our D-line. They can’t get pushed around. They’re going to have to play physical.”
The linebackers have been solid for BC. That group includes Noah Perez, Christian Quirarte, Justin Flores and Cimmaron Ruiz. The secondary is led by LJ Wallace, who verbally committed to accept a scholarship to the University of Colorado this summer.
“I think we have something to prove this week,” Ruiz said. “I think we’ll be ready for the Pitman offense. These next two games are big. It could put us in position to make the playoffs. We want to make a statement in league.”
A statement in league would mean a spot in the playoffs.
“That’s big,” Ruiz said. “We thought we should have made the playoffs last year but we came up short. Everyone is hoping and been working toward that goal multiple years now. We need to go get it. We’re hungry for it.”
Jansen Weekly Predictions
(Picks in parenthesis)
Pitman at Buhach Colony (Buhach Colony)
Merced at El Capitan (Merced)
Atwater at Golden Valley (Atwater)
Los Banos at Central Valley (Los Banos)
Livingston at Pacheco (Pacheco)
Hilmar at Hughson (Hilmar)
Gustine at Ripon Christian (Gustine)
Delhi at Le Grand (Delhi)
Waterford at Mariposa (Waterford)
Stone Ridge Christian at Golden Sierra (Stone Ridge Christian)
Washington Union at Chowchilla (Chowchilla)
Coalinga at Dos Palos (Coalinga)
Last Week: 12-2. Season: 68-17 (.800).