The Manteca Cowboys youth varsity football team had to go through one set of Eagles to get to another.
Manteca took an early 24-6 and staved off a second-half charge to beat the Weston Ranch Eagles, the defending National Youth Football League Super Bowl champions, 38-34, at Manteca High Saturday.
With the win, Manteca (10-2) will meet the Modesto Jr. Eagles next Saturday for the Super Bowl title.
Weston Ranch battled back and even took the lead at 34-30 with 4 minutes remaining. The Cowboys recaptured the lead for good with a minute left, and Gabe Munoz capped a terrific individual performance with the second of his two picks to seal the victory.
Munoz also had eight tackles and rushed for 135 yards to go with a 15-yard touchdown reception on offense.
Mike Gonzalez, another two-way standout, punched in a score from 4 yards out and finished with 65 yards. He also had eight tackles. Adrian Bennett recovered a fumble, and Markus Radovan recorded five stops.
Quarterback Chris Hocker ran in a pair of TDs, and Rigo Jauregui accumulated the bulk of his 70 yards on a 53-yard touchdown scamper.
Manteca’s defense yielded just six points in 10 regular-season games, and it provided the big play Saturday stuffing Weston Ranch’s point-after conversion in the third quarter. The Cowboys ended up winning, 7-6.
Nathaniel Arriola (16 rushes, 132 yards) tacked on the game’s first points with an 8-yard run in the second quarter. Jonathan Montoya’s extra-point run proved to be the game-winner.
Arriola led the Cowboys’ stifling defense with 13 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions. Dionicio Samoy (nine tackles, interception), Montoya (seven tackles, interception) and Adrian Rodriguez (10 tackles, sack) also had big games on the defensive end.
Nicholas Lucchetti rushed for 101 yards on 13 attempts and had nine tackles.
— Jonamar Jacinto