Just ask the Manteca High School offense line.
The Buffaloes went to a trusty old staple to eat away the clock in their 43-8 win at rival Sierra’s Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium on Friday.
They didn’t do anything fancy. They didn’t do anything cute. They rolled up their sleeves, lined up in a Power I formation and used their undersized offensive hogs to move Sierra off the ball and eat up yardage one chunk at a time.
It didn’t matter that they didn’t have the size of past Manteca blockers. It didn’t matter that they didn’t have the clout. All that mattered, snap-after-snap, is that they believed that they better than the man across from them – regardless of whether that was really the case.
“The thing about the offensive line is that it really doesn’t matter about the size of the dog in the fight, it matters whether there is enough fight in the dog,” Manteca head coach Eric Reis said. “It’s about how quickly you get off of the ball and tonight you saw the confidence build in these guys as the game went on. That’s exactly what you want to see as a coach.”
The one hulking member of the crew was Kyle Reis – the head coach’s sophomore son who matched up more accurately to Sierra’s oversized Josh Fala than anybody else on the line. And to think that he still has two more years of growing left to do while in high school.
But for all of the things that Reis is – the future anchor of the line of a program that has been consistent about winning ever since his father stepped in to take the reins – the thing that he isn’t is the one looking to take credit for anything himself.
While he and his cohorts were able to pound the ball away at Sierra for the majority, if not all of, the night, he gives his upper classman the nod when it comes to heart and having the mindset necessary to stay edgy in the powerful VOL.
“Tonight we won the battle at the line of scrimmage in classic Manteca High fashion,” said Reis. “We did it thanks to heart and to tenacity. And we’re going to keep grinding away at you until you break.
“You see so many games that decided by the 1 yard so you have to tell yourself that this time – this play – that 1 yard is going in your favor. If we can continue to do that as a unit then we can’t be stopped.”
The left tackle worked along with opposing tackle Elijah Root Sanchez, guards Sam Rohovit and Francisco Cebreros and center Tyler Welch as Manteca gained a total of 351 offensive yards. The bulk of that yardage, 223 yards in all, came on the ground, and all of Manteca’s production in the game’s second half was from running the football.
Nobody spoke more highly of the undersized group that senior quarterback Dakarai Charles, who used their inside blocking for a 21-yard read-option score with seconds left on the clock in the third quarter.
“Our lineman might not be the biggest, but they’re come out every play and work hard and that’s going to make our team better,” said Charles, who made some of the game’s more impressive plays out of the backfield when the line gave him second and third chances to move forward. “It doesn’t matter how big you are, these guys are going to show up every week and work hard and that’s what heart is. And this team is full of heart.”