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Manteca set to do battle with defending champs

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Manteca set to do battle with defending champs

Manteca High defensive coordinator Rick James (front) and outside linebackers coach Bob Beeding (back) go over defensive schemes during Wednesday's practice in preparation for Manteca's first round...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED November 19, 2009 2:17 a.m.
Eric Reis is a fan of the Sac-Joaquin Section’s new playoff format.

Last year, his Manteca Buffaloes went 8-2 but missed the postseason after finishing third in the Valley Oak League, and it just so happened to be the year that the conference was allotted just two berths.

Back in the postseason for the fifth time in six years, Manteca (7-3) is itching to get back to a fifth section final game this decade.

The section’s new format doubled the Division II-IV fields from eight to 16, ensuring that more playoff-worthy teams qualify. And a pool of 32 Division III-IV teams is cut in half, with the 16 largest schools making up the D-III bracket.

That makes for interesting and sometimes never-before-seen matchups such as the one Manteca will be a part of on Friday.

Casa Roble (6-4), the ninth-seeded team from Orangevale, visits Guss Schmiedt Field Friday with hopes of retaining its Division III title. The Rams went undefeated in 2008, and like Manteca they’ve enjoyed much success in recent years.

Casa Roble is 49-16 since 2004, while Manteca is 59-11 with section championships in Divisions III (2006) and IV (2004). The Buffaloes also garnered the Division II crown in 2001.

“When you have an 8-vs.-9 matchup with two historically-successful programs it makes for an exciting game,” Reis said. “What’s been fun for us as a coaching staff is that we’ve been able to learn a lot about their program on top of what we’ve seen from them on field.

“That’s what’s so exciting about this new format.”

Like Manteca, Casa Roble hails from a conference (Capital Athletic League) that qualified four teams into the playoffs. The Rams lost what was essentially the league title game 24-0 in Week 9 to Del Campo, the Division III bracket’s No. 2 team.

Casa Roble’s other losses came to 9-1 Placer (31-0), 7-3 Oak Ridge (23-21) and 9-1 Folsom (55-33) — all playoff teams hosting first-round games.

“They’re 6-4, but they had as tough a schedule as anybody,” Reis said. “It was only a year ago that they were 13-0 and section champs, so they have expectations to win. That makes it even that much tougher to beat them.”

The Buffaloes have other reasons to be worried.

“They’re big,” Reis said. “That’s the first thing that stands out is their size. Their linemen, their linebackers and safeties are big and they’re physical.

Casa Roble’s 4-4 defense is led by linebackers Justin Hayden (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) and Dillon Markau (6-1, 230), who have 124 and 75 tackles, respectively.

Defensive linemen Houston Wilfey (6-2, 225), Corbin Shumate (6-3, 205) and Matt Griffin (6-1, 225) have combined for 17.5 sacks; and safety Scott Patalano (6-2, 210) has 71 tackles and four interceptions.

Offensively, Casa Roble will offer a familiar look for Manteca with QB Justin Tann (1,626 yards, 11 TDs, seven INTs) and RB Anthony Santiago (1,106 yards, 12 TDs) leading the spread offense.
Tann has two reliable targets to throw to in 6-2 D.J. Muses (36 receptions, 467 yards, three TDs) and 6-foot Tommy Crosbie (34 receptions, 539 yards, five TDs).
“Santiago is a bowling ball — he’s a strong kid that runs really hard,” Reis said. “And they have some good wide outs, so that makes them tougher to stop.

“The good thing for us is that the other teams in town (East Union, Sierra) run really good spread offenses, so we’ve had to prepare for it before.”

Both incumbent starter Matt Barber and Matt Burrows will both see time under center for the Buffaloes. Barber (51-of-99, 573 yards, seven TDs, two picks) was beginning to heat up this season before suffering a concussion in Week 8 against Oakdale.

Burrows (33-54, 582, four, two), a junior, performed well in Barber’s place. Marquis Miller is Manteca’s offensive centerpiece with 1,345 yards and 19 touchdowns.
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