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THE LONG ROUTE BACK

Manteca looking to return to top of VOL standings

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THE LONG ROUTE BACK

Manteca High quarterback Matt Burrows looks to make the pass during Thursday's team practice at Manteca High.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED July 16, 2010 2:03 a.m.
The ill-effects of a heart-wrenching Sac-Joaquin Section playoff loss to Casa Roble is something of the past for the Manteca Buffaloes. Now the squad is poised to make a run at the Valley Oak League championship, and hopefully make a return trip to the section title game in the process.

Manteca’s 7-4 finish a season ago landed the Buffaloes a first-round home playoff game, but it was the team’s worst finish of the past six seasons. Manteca dropped a pair of VOL contests, including the program’s first-ever loss to Sierra High in a 23-15 loss.

The Buffaloes know what it takes to get to the top, turning in back-to-back section championship teams in ‘05 and ’06, so reasserting themselves as the team to beat in the VOL is the first step and that begins in the weight room.

“I think this is like any summer, we obviously want to get as strong as we can (physically),” Manteca head coach Eric Reis said. “Especially for us; we’re trying to play physical ball. The one thing that we knew this summer is that with the quarterback we have, there is probably going to be a chance to be more balanced.

“We’re going to be closer in running and passing than we have ever been I think.”

The Buffaloes will turn to senior leader Matt Burrows to hold the reins. Burrows got significant playing time at the quarterback position when starter Matt Barber sustained an injury during Manteca’s week eight loss to Oakdale.

Manteca is hoping that its ability to run the ball coupled with Burrows’ capabilities in the passing department will lead to a more balanced attack, giving defenses more of a challenge in halting Manteca’s success.

The Buffaloes were able to get a glimpse at first-year VOL programs Lathrop and Kimball during their recent action in West High’s four-team, full-contact football camp in Tracy. Manteca saw some good things during the camp, but will maximize its remaining time before the section-wide dead period begins July 25.

“I think that there has definitely been a few kids whose stock has really gone up,” Reis said. “And there have been a few other kids  where you’re like , ‘Wow, maybe he’s not a guy like we thought. I definitely think we have had a few answers.

“Like anyone, until you put the pads on you think you know, but you really don’t.”

Manteca will close out the final week leading into the section-enforced dead period with on-campus team workouts, and get back after it the first day of practice on Aug. 9. The Buffaloes will open their 2010 season playing host to the Galt Warriors.
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