STOCKTON — Rules are made to be broken, and Manteca High’s Isaiah White is a rule breaker.
Along with senior Zion Allen, the Buffaloes duo came up with some huge plays Friday night to help Manteca to its eighth Sac-Joaquin Section football title with a heart-stopping 35-28 win over Valley Oak League rival Oakdale on Sanguinetti Field at St. Mary’s High.
White is only a freshman, and his presence on the varsity squad is something unheard of for the Buffaloes.
“White is just a ball of energy,” Manteca coach Mark Varnum said. “He is a freshman starting on the varsity for Manteca High. I asked a lot of the old timers about that and they told me it was unheard of. Nobody can remember that happening.
“And he is a huge, huge energy boost. He plays full go all the time. He got dinged up a little bit, so hopefully he is healthy for next week.”
White was forced to leave the game in the second half due to a knee injury, and his status for next week’s CIF Regional Championship Bowl Game is unclear. But before he left the game he was in on nine tackles and recovered a muffed Mustangs fumble near midfield near the end of the second half, setting up Allen’s first touchdown.
“What can you say about Isaiah White,” Buffaloes defensive coordinator Rick James said. “He’s a freshman and it’s incredible what he can do. He has had three or four games on the varsity and he has been a dominant defensive lineman for us.
“I hope his knee is good. He banged it up a little bit and he wasn’t able to finish the game.”
The victory was bittersweet for White, as his father — who encouraged White to play the game — passed away two years ago.
“Me and my dad were big on football,” White said. “He encouraged me to play football, that’s why I started playing and ever since then he was at all of my games. He passed away two years ago and that brought me down and I didn’t even want to play anymore. And then my mom picked me up because she told me it would be for him, and I play every game for him.
“On that muffed punt I was just zooming down the field and I saw it bounce off the guy and I knew I had to go for it so I just dove for it and I got it. It was an amazing feeling and this was a hard-fought game and I am just glad I got to play with these guys.”
Allen caught three passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns, but none more thrilling than a broken play that turned into a 59-yard touchdown play to put Manteca ahead for good with just 28 second remaining.
“On the first score it was a fade and Hudson Wyatt threw a great ball and I just went up and got it,” Allen said. “The second on was supposed to be a trick play, but they had it covered so I ran across and Hudson got it to me.
“Then I made two moves and I scored. Once I got past that last defender I told myself, ‘Let’s go.’”
Buffaloes offensive coordinator Brian Rohles is grateful for the speed Allen brings to the table.
“Having someone with Allen’s speed makes life really easy,” Rohles said. He makes my decisions easy. He’s going to be there, outrun them and we will throw it up to them.
“We didn’t want to go into overtime with those guys, so we decided we were going to take a couple of shots. Allen’s last touchdown was a broken play and give credit to quarterback Hudson Wyatt for keeping that play alive. Wyatt has gone through hell and back this season with so much turmoil and adversity. We worked the scramble drill and Zion was wide open, and then the fastest man in the county takes it.”
Allen was the VOL champion in the 100 and 200 meters in 2020.
“Zion is the VOL champ in the 100 and 200 for a reason,” Varnum said. “We knew he would make some plays. We have been waiting all season for it.
“They were so concerned with Blake (Nichelson) and our running game they White was able to make a couple of huge plays tonight. And once he catches that ball you are not catching him.”
Manteca must now wait for the CIF to announce the bowl pairings on Sunday afternoon to find out who they play and if they play on Saturday or next Friday.