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Manteca, Enterprise gain mutual respect after NorCal game

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Manteca High’s Billy Sharmoug stands dejectedly after Enteprise scored what would be the winning touchdown early in the third quarter of Saturday’s CIF Division II Regional Bowl Game at Lincoln Hig...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED December 17, 2013 2:29 a.m.

The CIF Division II Regional Championship Bowl Game pitted two teams rich in tradition but not so much in prestige outside their respective sections.

Sac-Joaquin Section champion Manteca High and Enterprise of the Northern Section were battling as much for respect as they were for berths to the state finals. It was undefeated Hornets from Redding who came out on top, 27-21, earning the right to square off with SoCal juggernaut Chaminade (West Hills) this Saturday in Carson.

“The biggest motivation for us coming down here was that nobody was expecting us to be down here in the first place,” said Isaiah Matthews, Enterprise’s workhorse back who amassed 172 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries while setting a new single-season school rushing record.

“Everyone was counting us out; everyone was calling us the underdog. It was just an amazing feeling to come down here and do what we did.”

Whether or not the two teams garnered any more respect from other parts of Northern California remains to be seen. What they did do was provide a great football game for the many in attendance to watch. Enterprise, down 14-0 after the first quarter, scored 21 unanswered points in 4 minutes, 11 seconds to take the lead. Just before halftime, Alex Laurel hauled in highlight-worthy 42-yard touchdown pass from Joe Menzel to tie it.

Enterprise jumped ahead for good on its opening drive of the second half. That capped off the scoring, but the game wasn’t any less exciting the rest of the way.

If there was any respect to be divvied out, it was to each other. It was a back-and-forth struggle between two like teams with powerful linemen and impressive skill athletes.

“It was a heavyweight title fight inside,” Manteca lineman Billy Sharmoug said. “They had a line just like ours, really talented and real big. I thought for the most part it was pretty even, but obviously they came out on the better end of it.”

Matthews said Manteca “is the best team that we have played, bar none.”

“They have athletes everywhere,” he added. “Their line is huge and it was a struggle the entire game.”

While some, namely from the Bay Area, were left scratching their heads at Enterprise’s selection for the NorCal Game, there were also those who questioned Manteca’s.

“I think this was the right game and these were the teams that were supposed to be here,” Matthews said.

The intensity and emotion of Saturday’s contest, however, spilled over into postgame handshake along the 50-yard line.

Tempers flared between a handful of players from both squads, causing an ugly scene that even involved a parent who had to be restrained by Stockton PD. No one appeared injured from the fracas consisting mostly of pushing, shoving, grabbing and tugging.

After order was restored, the head coaches of both teams scolded their players before the awards ceremony. On one end of the field, Manteca’s Eric Reis demanded that they finish what was a historic season with class. On the other side, Darren Trueblood of Enterprises emphatically voiced his displeasure with what had just transpired, calling it “embarrassing.”

Sharmoug, who steered clear of the postgame skirmish, didn’t let it affect his opinion on the opponent.

“It’s a fun team to play against,” he said. “They’re real class acts, honestly. They weren’t trash talking or anything like that. I wish them the best. I’m rooting for them next week.”

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