Rams-Tigers annual "Battle of the Pump" highlights Valley Conference this week at 1 p.m. in Reedley
If you asked Fresno City College (8-0, 3-0) head football coach Tony Caviglia and Michael White, his counterpart at Reedley College (4-4, 2-1), about last week's games, they'd probably look skyward and say, "Thank you."
The Rams dodged a bullet from Modesto Jr. College (6-2, 2-1) and won 21-19 at Ratclffe Stadium. Meanwhile, the Tigers escaped with a 33-29 victory at Merced (3-5, 0-3) when the Blue Devils couldn't score with a first-and-goal situation inside the 5-yard line.
So, this sets up this week's annual "Battle of the Pump" between the two State Center Community College District rivals which will be hosted by Reedley College on the Reedley High campus Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. The two colleges have been playing off and on since 1948 and FCC has a commanding lead in the series, 35-7.
To explain the significance of "The Pump," and what it means from a historical standpoint, two former SCCCD board members get most of the credit. Harry Hiraoka and the late Linn Ford came up with the symbol of a hand water pump because of its familiarity around Central Valley wells and sinks in the late 19th and early 20th Century. "The Pump" exemplifies priming up spirit at the two colleges for this football game.
The first "Battle of the Pump" was in 1972 when FCC won an exciting 22-19 game at Ratcliffe Stadium. FCC won 12 straight before the streak was broken in 1985. The Rams have lost only 4 times to Reedley since the "Battle of the Pump" began.
Even though the Rams didn't play Reedley last week, there was some history made against Modesto. Specifically, it was for freshman quarterback Mark Hetherington (Buchanan High) because he broke a 32-year old school record. With 4:29 remaining in the second quarter, Hetherington found sophomore wide receiver Maurice Washington (McClymonds, Oakland) wide open over the middle for a 60-yard touchdown bomb. The TD pass was Hetherington's 25th of the season and it broke the old mark he shared for two weeks with Mike Rasmussen (Fresno) who had set the mark in 1969 enroute to leading FCC to a second consecutive state championship. Rasmussen still holds the FCC career mark with 43 TD passes.
With 1:14 remaining in the second quarter, Hetherington connected with sophomore tight end Aaron Austin (Dos Palos) for an 11-yard TD pass. This proved to be the winning score as the Modesto defense kept the Rams off the scoreboard in the second half, but FCC held on for its 8th straight win.
Saturday's game is a must win for FCC if the Rams are to maintain the No. 2 slot in the Northern California rankings and get a chance to visit City College of San Francisco's Rams for the Northern California championship game on Dec. 1. If that happens, it would be a rematch of the 2000 NorCal championship.