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Playoff atmosphere in Los Banos tonight

LOS BANOS -- Dennis Stubbs has been in big-game mode all week.

The Los Banos coach knows the opportunity in front of his team tonight against Pitman.

"A win would be huge for the program," Stubbs said. "That's what this program needs.

"We need to get to the playoffs, feel that excitement and the accomplishment that goes with that."

The two teams meet at Loftin Field at 7:30 p.m.

While a win doesn't clinch anything for LB (2-1 Central California Conference, 4-3 overall), it would give Stubbs' troops the inside track on the CCC's second playoff spot with just two games remaining.

A win would give Los Banos wins over both Turlock (3-1 CCC) and Pitman (2-1, 5-2).

Turlock and Pitman both have to tangle with undefeated Merced (3-0) in the next two weeks.

Los Banos' lone CCC loss was to Merced.

Just how big is tonight's game for Los Banos, which hasn't reached the playoffs since 1998?

"I told the kids on Monday, this is the biggest practice of the year," Stubbs said. "I've used that one before, but right now, it is."

Los Banos faced a similar situation last year on the road against Pitman.

Bad news: LB was blown away early in a 42-21 loss.

Los Banos seems to have more balance this year, with an offense that features quarterback Erik Martin, receiver Rubal Sangha and an emerging running back in Darron Brown.

Los Banos has also had two weeks to prepare for Pitman after resting during a bye week.

"I told people in the offseason I felt we had the tools," Stubbs said. "We faced the same challenge every team faces every year -- coming together as a team.

"You have to believe in each other and play for your teammates. I think we've made big steps the last two weeks."

Other action tonight includes Merced (6-1) traveling to Atwater (2-1, 4-3) in the 41st Santa Fe Bowl.

Merced has won the last four games between the two rivals and has extended its CCC winning streak to 15 straight.

Buhach Colony (0-4, 2-6) and Golden Valley (0-4, 0-8) are both looking for their first conference win in a match-up at Merced College.

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