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No. 2 Buffaloes get second chance at No. 3 Inderkum

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Mamteca High quarterback Joe Menzel (16) charges through a seam in the Casa Roble defense during Friday’s 49-13 win on Friday.

Photos by SEAN KAHLER/

POSTED November 26, 2013 11:12 p.m.

Manteca High’s football team made amends for the failures of its predecessors the past two weeks.

This week, head coach Eric Reis says, it’s more personal for his current players.

The second-seeded Buffaloes (11-1) are out for revenge and, more importantly, a final-round berth this Friday when they welcome No. 3 Inderkum (10-2) of Sacramento to Guss Schmiedt Field.

In the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff opener, Manteca outlasted Central Valley 69-55 for the program’s first postseason victory since Nov. 16, 2007. Last week, it crushed No. 10 Casa Roble, 49-13. Casa Roble was the team that started the Buffaloes’ dubious four-year streak of first-round exits back in 2009, when the Rams mounted a furious comeback down 28-3 in the third quarter and prevailed, 35-28.

The last of the four-straight playoff losses came at the hands of Inderkum, which began its 2012 run to the semifinals by staving off Manteca’s game effort, 30-21.

The Buffs are gunning for their first championship game appearance since 2006.

“That was exciting for us old coaches. There was definitely a little revenge factor there,” Reis said of Friday’s win. “This time it’s different. For our players, (Inderkum) knocked them out last year and they were on the bus ride home. There’s a different feel to do this. They know what’s at stake here. There’s a lot riding on the game and our kids get that.”

Up until this  point, Manteca has proven to be a much improved team since last seeing Inderkum.

So has Inderkum.

The Tigers had a challenging four-week stretch during the first half of the regular season starting with a 49-32 triumph over Casa Roble.

They then suffered their only two losses on back-to-back weeks against fellow Sacramento-area heavyweights Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove), 33-19, and Rocklin, 19-7. Pleasant Grove is one of the four teams still alive in the SJS Division I bracket.

Inderkum’s benchmark 27-18 victory over Yuba City (11-1) followed in their Tri-County Conference opener. The Honkers are in the final four in Division II after beating name opponents St. Mary’s and Grant.

“To their credit they played up and saw some really good teams (in the regular season),” Reis said. “That helped them prepare for the playoffs.”

Longtime coach Terry Stark is the mastermind behind Inderkum’s powerful wing-T captained by supremely athletic QB, C.J. Spencer (54.7 completion percentage, 1,435 yards, 22 TDs, 4 interceptions).

Manteca is used to game planning against the wing-T having to face Oakdale and Kimball in the Valley Oak League.

“Obviously, Oakdale is one of the best wing-T teams there is, and against Kimball we got to see different kinds of athletes do it,” Reis said. “We had a pretty decent game plan against those guys and did pretty well against them, but these guys (Inderkum) have players who make you miss and take it to the house.

“They have so much you have to account for — their wing back, their fullback, their quarterback. It’s not just one guy, it’s multiple dudes.”

One of them, however, will not be suiting up for the remainder of Inderkum’s postseason. The Sacramento Bee reported Monday that RB/DB Terrence White (786 yards rushing, 206 receiving, 10 total TDs) lacerated his liver and a kidney during the Tigers’ 62-42 second-round barnburner with Vanden.

That leaves Inderkum with just three players with more than 500-plus yards rushing — Marcus Gilbert (879, 10 TDs), Tyler Dean (831-9) and Austin Thurman (532-9).

Six-foot-1 receiver Khalil Hudson (32 catches, 686 yards, 10 TDs) is Inderkum’s big-play threat in the passing game.

“(White) is a dynamic player,” Reis said. “but they have so many talented guys I think they grow them on trees.”

Defensively, 305-pound Kenneth Pettis anchors Inderkum up front, while Arizona State commit Jordan Thomas leads the defensive backfield.

“Most teams we’ve played will switch up their defense to do anything they can to stop us,” Reis said. “Inderkum will stay in their odd front and just do what they do. They run their stuff, and I respect that. They keep it simple because they have the players who can do what they do well.”

Despite all of Inderkum’s physical advantages in speed, the Buffaloes hung with the then-No. 6-seeded Tigers in a first-round potential upset last season. Manteca trailed 23-21 with 10:57 left in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, it could not overcome Inderkum’s big-play ability.

Leading 14-12 late in the first half, Manteca turned the ball over on downs on the Tigers’ 23-yard line and missed an opportunity take a two-score lead into the break. White completed three passes to cover 77 yards, and his two-point conversion run catapulted Inderkum to a 20-14 lead it would not give up.

 “We felt like we played them so tough but we gave up those haymakers,” Reis said. “The thing that gives us a little bit of confidence is that we had to play up there on their Field Turf and for the most part we played well.

“This time we don’t have the bus ride and we are definitely excited about playing the day after Thanksgiving at home on our surface. Last year we gave them a real good game and this one should go down to the wire. It might come down to which team does not make the mistakes.” 

Having seen both teams, Casa Roble coach Norm Ryan believes Manteca has a shot.

“To beat someone like Manteca you have to play a perfect game, and obviously we didn’t. They had a lot to do with that,” Ryan said last Friday. “That’s a good-looking team. With their size they run the ball well and they throw the ball well when they have to. They stack up real well with Inderkum.”

Historical notes

Ten-year-old Inderkum is in its ninth varsity season but has had much success in its brief history.

The Tigers have won at least 10 games for now eight straight seasons while winning seven league championships in that stretch. They are also consistent playoff contenders but have no section banners to show for it, earning runner-up finishes in 2008 and 09 (both in Division III).

Manteca, by contrast, has a tradition that spans decades and generations, but its run since the turn of the century has included many of its program-defining moments. Manteca has qualified for 11 of the past 13 postseasons. The Buffs failed to qualify in 2008 despite an 8-2 record.

In 2001, the Buffaloes claimed the section’s Division II title, their first of three. They added two more to the collection in 2005 (Division III) and 2006 (Division IV) under Reis, the school’s all-time winningest coach.

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