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Family Tradition

Legacy hopes to join brothers as champion

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Family Tradition

Manteca High senior Billy Sharmoug gets ready to take the field for practice on Aug. 17 in preparation for the upcoming season.


POSTED August 29, 2013 10:55 p.m.

Billy Sharmoug is one of the strongest linemen to ever play for Manteca High coach Eric Reis.

“The kid can bench press 315 pounds nine times. Nine times,” Reis said. “He’s a very powerful kid with a strong upper body.”

Good thing, too, because the senior carries the weight of an entire program on his shoulders.

Simply stated: Sharmoug, a third-year starter at left guard, wants to return the Buffaloes to the Valley Oak League and Sac-Joaquin Section’s proverbial mountaintops.

The pressure is welcomed. The burden of expectation accepted. He proudly wields the Shepherd’s Stick, a bent metal staff bestowed upon the team leader by former Shepherds.

“It’s a great honor. It’s special to me,” Sharmoug said. “It’s something that has been passed down year after year. My middle brother (Mohamed) was there the year it was founded.”

Sharmoug is forever linked by his kin to the Buffaloes’ glory years, a string of Sac-Joaquin Section championships in the early 2000s. Carlo Sharmoug helped hoist Manteca’s first-ever section championship banner in 2001. Later, Gus Sharmoug was a key member of the 2005 team that throttled Sonora in the final for the first of back-to-back championships.

Mohamed Sharmoug played for the 2004 team that lost a nail-biter at Rio Linda with a failed fourth-down conversion in the red zone in the final seconds.

Billy Sharmoug was raised around that culture of winning and dominance. He’d like to continue the family tradition, and he’s down to his last shot.

“It’s my motivation. Two out of the three section championship teams here at Manteca High have had Sharmougs on them. I feel like it’s something that I have to carry on … being a Sharmoug myself,” he said.

“They rag on me a little bit, because the last two years haven’t been so good. I tell them just wait. I have high expectations for this season.”

Manteca finished 6-5 last season and third in the Valley Oak League behind Sierra and Oakdale, the six-time defending champ. The Buffaloes clinched a playoff berth but were bounced by Inderkum in the first round.

And so continued a disturbing trend for Manteca faithful so accustomed to long postseason pushes.

The Buffaloes were 9-2 in 2011 – Sharmoug’s first full season at the varsity level – but were retired by Consumes Oaks, 14-0.

In all, Manteca hasn’t made it out of the first round of the playoffs since 2007, when it beat Foothill.

Reis has countered by beefing up his non-league schedule. The Buffs open at Central Valley, which boasts a game-changer in running back Ja’Quan Gardner, and then take on Wilcox (San Clara) and Los Banos before beginning VOL play against Sonora on Sept. 13.

“If you’re going to win this thing, you have to play good teams,” Reis said. “I think Oakdale has proven that the past few years, playing up against teams like Oceanside. When you play against teams in Sacramento, they have athletes galore. I’d rather find out now what we have instead of Week 7.”

What Reis has in abundance are legacies – players with direct ties to its championship teams in the early 2000s.

Sharmoug is just a start. Elijah Cooper and Michael Hatfield have older brothers who played for Reis and his staff, and Steven Ruble was a water boy long before he was a pass-catching tight-end.

“What’s cool about this team is that we have some legacies,” Reis said. “Billy’s older brothers played for me. Elijah Cooper, his older brother played for us. … Those guys were around for the glory days and I think they want to put their name up there.”

To contact James Burns, e-mail

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