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High turnout among many summer highlights for Buffaloes

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A herd of Buffalo defenders piles on the West running back during an 11-on-11 scrimmage in a full-contact camp hosted by West in Tracy last week.


POSTED July 14, 2012 1:21 a.m.

Manteca High’s football teams will be crowding the sidelines this fall.

With over 150 Buffaloes toiling through the summer months, varsity head coach Eric Reis is encouraged by the turnout and work ethic showed across the three levels. And who knows how many more will join the fold when the first official day of practice kicks off the 2012 season on Aug. 6.

The Sac-Joaquin Section-imposed Dead Period begins on Monday. Players are allowed to continue conditioning but cannot participate in football-specific activities.

“As a program this has been one of our best summers we’ve had,” Reis said during a full-contact camp held at West High Wednesday. “We’ve had up to 65 freshmen, about 37 to 38 sophomores and 58 varsity guys. For us those are very high numbers, and they’ve been consistent.”

The varsity Buffs have backed their numbers with performance when facing other schools in competitive settings this summer.

Manteca took on Turlock and Grace Davis in home-and-away passing scrimmages. On June 30, the Buffaloes participated in a 7-on-7 tournament hosted by Patterson High.

And won.

“We had a great week,” Reis said. “We ended up winning the passing competition, and we don’t really throw the ball. They also had a competition for linemen and we won that, too.”

With returning juniors Billy Sharmoug and Isaac McClain as well as senior center Daniel Clemons, the Buffaloes will again look to wear down defenses with a punishing run game.

“We have some other key guys on the team but that’s our foundation right there,” Reis said. “It gives us a reason to be optimistic.”

Same goes for his quarterbacks. Senior Ryan Fox performed admirably while filling in for injured Alex Martinez for 2 ½ games during last year’s 9-2 campaign. His elusiveness and running ability give him an edge over newcomer Joe Menzel, a transfer from rival East Union. Menzel, more of a pocket passer, broke single-season school records as a sophomore for East Union last year.

“Fox has had a good summer, we’re real happy with his progression,” Reis said. “Joe is nice to have on board, but we’ll what happens there. For only a junior, he has some skills. He gives us another option.”

At the three-day West camp, Manteca got to lock horns with area rivals Lathrop and Ripon along with Pacheco of Los Banos, Franklin of Stockton and the host Wolf Pack during 7-on-7 passing, inside running and full-blown 11-on-11 scrimmages.

“It’s close by, the price is really good and we see some good competition,” Reis said. “Plus, we get to see what we look like in pads.”

Speaking of good competition, Manteca has upgraded its nonleague schedule. The Buffaloes again face Stockton-based Edison and Stagg, two athletic squads that feature spread offenses.

Sandwiching those games, however, is a home game with former Valley Oak League foe Los Banos in Week 2. The Tigers earned the competitive Western Athletic Conference’s title and return one of the region’s top running backs in James Sams, who rushed for 1,872 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2011.

“They’ve got their running back, their quarterback and a lot of other very talented players returning,” Reis said. “We want to see some of the best teams early on. They’re in our division (for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs) and that’s a team we could possibly face. We want to find out how good we are. They’re going to truly test us, for sure.”

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