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MHS nets 2 major awards; Pruitt VOL Offensive POY

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POSTED December 11, 2013 12:22 a.m.

Alex Laurel has broken Manteca High records and won championships in his ongoing breakthrough senior season.

He earned one more accolade Monday night when Valley Oak League coaches met at CK Grill and Bar in Lathrop for their annual year-end meeting. The 5-foot-8, 174-pound running back and return specialist was unanimously voted the Most Valuable Player, an award he shares with the rest of the Buffaloes’ prolific offense.

“It starts up front with our 1,000-pound club linemen who do the dirty work,” Laurel said. “I just run behind them and squeeze through the holes.

“I don’t have 4.3 (second 40-yard-dash) speed but I’m shifty, so I just try to run around people and through them if I need to.”

Teammate Jacob LeDon was named Outstanding Defensive Player, while record-breaking quarterback Jake Pruitt of Sierra is Outstanding Offensive Player. Manteca’s Eric Reis is Coach of the Year.

Manteca (7-0, 13-1) will play Enterprise (Redding) in the CIF State Division II Regional Championship Bowl Game this Saturday night at Lincoln High of Stockton.

Laurel says it’s “a blessing” to be the featured back after spending all of last season and the start of 2013 as more of a secondary jack-of-all trades threat. It wasn’t until his 194-yard, three-touchdown effort in the league opener against Sonora that he became the guy.

In last week’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship game, he set the program’s modern-day rushing record that now stands at 1,799 yards. His 34 rushing touchdowns and 47 overall — including eight receiving and five on special teams returns — are believed to be all-time records.

“It feels good (to be recognized) after all the hard work I put in with the team in the offseason,” Laurel said.

Eleven Buffaloes in all were selected to the All-VOL first team, with two of them — heralded linemen Isaac McClain and Billy Sharmoug — getting spots on both offense and defense. Center Valenti Saavedra and 6-5, 302-pound right tackle Joe Eavenson join McClain and Sharmoug on the first-team offensive line.

Quarterback Joe Menzel (1,826 yards, 25 TDs, 5 interceptions), tight end Michael Hatfield (266 yards, 3 TDs) and kicker Marcus Montano (81-84 PATs, 1-2 FGs) were other Buffaloes selected for the first-team offense.

Manteca’s first-team defensive players were outside linebacker Lechi Nkwocha (84 tackles, 21 for losses, 11 sacks) and defensive backs Brandon Dabney (4 interceptions) and Elijah Cooper. LeDon has 75 tackles, four sacks and three fumble recoveries.

Sierra (5-2, 7-4) has the second largest contingent of first-team honorees with nine. Pruitt set new single-season, single-game and career passing records for the Timberwolves, finishing with 3,260 yards with a 69.2-percent completion percentage, 38 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

First-team receivers Lucas Widmer (60 receptions, 1,012 yards, 12 TDs) and Bryson Sanders (71-717, 6 TDs) also set new program records. Defensive linemen Aaron Thiel (5 sacks) and DeVonte Reese (4 sacks), offensive lineman Adam Bettencourt, inside linebacker Trevon McCray (88 tackles), defensive back Hunter Peterson and punter Hunter Johnson round out Sierra’s first-team selections. Thiel was also named to the second-team defense.

Area players making the second team were:

•East Union tight end Clay Cuneo and outside linebacker Nick McGill.

•Sierra running back Reid Maestas, kicker Josh Gonzales and defensive back Tyler Lewis.

•Lathrop wide out Mykhail Redman, defensive end T.J. Conley and inside linebackers Josh Elliot and Hawaii Leaf a’ Teo.

•Weston Ranch quarterback Marcus Moore and sophomore receiver Erron Duncan.

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