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Buffs take section by storm
Manteca earns 3rd title in 8 years
The Manteca High varsity celebrates with the section banner, - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

STOCKTON – The Manteca High football team claimed its third Sac-Joaquin Section championship in eight years, routing Sacramento 49-6 in a driving rain at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.

Alex Laurel scored two touchdowns and rushed for 160 yards and the defense harassed the Dragons into four turnovers, highlighting the program’s return to prominence.

The Buffaloes cued the celebration with just over 2 minutes remaining, dousing head coach Eric Reis with the water bucket. Moments later, the program – coaches, players, alumni and family – gathered under the scoreboard to revel in victory.

It was the most lopsided win in a Division III final in section history, and it left many in green wondering what more it could do to impress state officials. The CIF will announce the regional bowl championships on Sunday.

Manteca (13-1), ranked No. 4 in Cal-Hi Sports’ latest Division II rankings, is considered by many a long shot to earn a bid.

That didn’t stop the Buffaloes from putting on a show Friday night. Quarterback Joe Menzel accounted for two touchdowns, including a 30-yard hook up with Nick Gatehouse.

Lechi Nkowcha and Gatehouse anchored a defense that stifled the pass-happy Dragons. Nkowcha had two sacks and a fumble recovery, while Gatehouse intercepted Caden Voges twice.