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Old geezers keep faith as Buffalo fans
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Manuel Valverde doesn't have a problem calling himself an “old geezer.”

In fact, it’s something that he and a handful of other Manteca High alumni that come out to as many football and basketball games as possible have affectionately coined themselves.

Valverde – who graduated from Manteca High in 1941 – spent most of the Friday nights this fall sitting in the stands of Guss Schmiedt field with Bill Sarina, Sam Bologna, Alfonso Limas, John Aguilar and Bill Moreno, rooting on the group’s alma mater and enjoying a night out watching the Buffaloes rack up a 9-1 regular season record. They were also there during Manteca’s stunning first round playoff upset to the Vanden Vikings.

“It’s just fun to go out and watch the high school kids,” Valverde said. “None of us have kids in high school anymore, but we like to go out and watch our alma mater and make as much noise as possible. It’s good to take in the air.”

And having a little bit of fun in the stands is what it’s all about for this group of Manteca faithful.

When Manteca beat Oakdale earlier in the season, Bologna held up a handmade sign that read, “win one for the old geezers.” And win one they did.

For Bologna – a member of the Manteca High class of 1947 – it’s a chance to get together with the friends that he has in town that also grew up here in the community and take pride in watching their old high school succeed in athletics.

And with memories of watching games at Manteca High as far back as 1937, getting a chance to see the youth of today on the field is something that he enjoys greatly.

“I usually go to games all the time. I’m interested in them, and I get to spend time with the people I know and fellowship with my friends,” Bologna said. “You really do form a close bond with the people that are there. Last year we got to watch Kiwi Gardner play, which was really exciting.

“And it’s not just Manteca for me. I try to go to as many different games here in the community as possible.”

Bill Sarina is also a part of the outgoing and fun-loving group, and much like Bologna, he tries to hit both East Union and Sierra games when possible. He also takes on baseball citywide during the spring.

While he missed the latter part of the 2004 football season – in which the Buffaloes went on to claim the CIF Sac-Joaquin title – as well as the following three seasons to care for his ailing wife, Sarina has returned to his group of friends and cheers on at as many games as he can possibly make it to.

 “I was born and raised here, and so were the people that I meet up with, and it’s one of those things where you get together with the people that you know and enjoy yourself,” Sarina said. “It’s all about the enjoyment of the game and watching the kids play. All of my kids graduated a long time ago, so now this is the chance to see the grandkids of friends, and that’s great.”