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Team of destiny? Los Banos' playoff chances on the line tonight against Pitman

Dennis Stubbs loves the position his team is in.

With two games left, Los Banos has a realistic shot at making the playoffs.

It's unfamiliar territory for Los Banos in the last decade.

"I don't think there's any pressure on us," Stubbs said. "Don't get me wrong, we're going in expecting to win.

"I don't think anybody thought we'd be where we're at."

Stubbs and Los Banos can continue surprising people tonight when it travels to Turlock to face Pitman in a game that could determine the Central California Conference's second playoff spot.

"Since they've come into the CCC four years ago, you basically have to go through Pitman to win a championship or get to the playoffs," Stubbs said.

Pitman (4-1 CCC, 6-2 overall) has won four straight games since losing its CCC opener against Merced.

Los Banos (3-1, 5-3) has won five of its last six.

The Pitman defense should provide a challenge for a Los Banos offense averaging over 25 points per game.

Running back Casey Cotta has pounded his way to 1,211 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Quarterback Julio Cortez has helped keep defenses honest with 1,371 passing yards and 11 touchdowns.

Linebackers Dalton Binda and Stefan Palacio have helped Pitman hold teams to 18 points per game.

"To this point, it's going to be the toughest defense we've played this year,"

Stubbs said.

"It's going to be a challenge for our offense and offensive line. It's a challenge we're excited about."

With the Sac-Joaquin Section adopting a tie-breaker system for playoff spots that involves margin of victory, Los Banos will need to beat Pitman by seven points to earn a playoff spot if the two teams end in a tie with Golden Valley.

Stubbs is aware of the scenarios and said he'll let the flow of the game help him make a decision if it presents itself late in the game.

For now, Los Banos is focused on playing its biggest game of the season.

"We lost some focus last week with a non-league game," Stubbs said. "Those weeks are tough to coach.

"On Monday, you could tell this week was different. Our guys had a hop to their step."

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at sjansen@mercedsun-star.com.

Los Banos (5-3, 3-1 CCC) at Pitman (6-2, 4-1 CCC)

WHEN: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Turlock High School

WHAT'S AT STAKE: With the Sac-Joaquin Section adopting a tie-breaker system for playoff spots that involves margin of victory, Los Banos will need to beat Pitman by seven points to earn a playoff spot if the two teams end in a tie with Golden Valley -- which faces Buhach Colony on the road tonight.

OTHER GAMES TONIGHT: Atwater at Merced, Golden Valley at Buhach Colony, Hilmar at Livingston, Central Catholic at Gustine, Le Grand at Delhi, Mariposa at Denair,

Rite of Passage at Stone

Ridge Christian, Chowchilla

at Dos Palos

LOOKING AHEAD: Next week's matchups include Merced at

Los Banos and Buhach Colony against Atwater in the Bloss Bowl.

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