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POSTED August 29, 2013 10:53 p.m.

MVP IN THE MAKING: Senior running back Alex Laurel has tacked on 15 pounds of muscle to his 5-foot-8 frame, which should add another dimension to his game. He’ll get most of the carries at running back this fall and could post MVP-type numbers behind the Valley Oak League’s best offensive line. “We’ve had him playing a lot of defense and running the ball,” Reis said. “This year, we’ll have him just running.”

 X-FACTOR, PART II: Senior Brandon Dabney has drawn comparisons to another No. 2 from Manteca’s decorated past – Michael Turner, a superstar on the 2005 section championship team and a Division 1 recruit. Give Dabney this: He has a similar game. He is a shutdown corner and the Buffaloes’ No. 1 option at wide receiver. He shined at the West High scrimmages.

DADDY’S BOY: The newest addition to Manteca’s massive offensive line is senior Joe Eavenson. The 6-foot-6, 320-pounder suffered a head injury as a freshman, delaying his development as a football player. Eavenson has strong roots: His father, Dan, is a former collegiate lineman and the Buffaloes’ line coach.

GREEN MACHINE A LEMON? Manteca has qualified for the postseason 10 times in Eric Reis’ 12 seasons as head coach, including four straight trips. The only problem: Each of those four berths have ended in a first-round loss. The last three losses have been decisive losses to Sacramento-area schools, including a 30-21 defeat to Inderkum last fall.

The coaching staff says the biggest difference between Manteca High teams now and those from the early 2000s (when Manteca won all three of its section titles) is defense. The Buffs have an experienced defensive line, anchored by Billy Sharmoug and Isaac McClain, but its linebacking corps is “green, green, green,” Reis said, and had trouble with the inside run during summer drills and scrimmages.

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