It all happened so quickly for Manteca High captain Joe Trout Friday night.
First it was plowing his way into the end zone for the Buffaloes’ first score of the Valley Oak League season in their contest against the visiting Kimball Jaguars. Then it was simply outrunning the Kimball defense from 23 yards away to make the night his first with more than one touchdown.
But when he intercepted a pass and returned it 66 yards for his third of the night – sealing a 41-20 victory – shock started to set in.
“This game was definitely an experience for me and I enjoyed it a lot,” said Trout, beaming from ear-to-ear even as he fought to catch his breath. “I didn’t score at all last year. When I caught that interception I thought, ‘I better get to the end zone.’ I saw the quarterback and he was right there, so I threw a little stutter step and fortunately I had a blocker there and I was able to take it in.
“This will be a memory for a long time.”
Manteca (1-0, 4-0) jumped out to an early lead that when combined with a defensive front that contained the feared Zack Johnson – Kimball’s junior quarterback who can score with both his arm and his feet – put them squarely in a position to control the tempo of the game.
By allowing their balancing running game – they utilized three different backs to complement quarterback Alex Martinez’ arm – to eat up valuable clock time, Manteca was able to keep Johnson and the Kimball (0-1, 1-3) offense off of the field and out of the equation.
“We saw a lot of tape on that guy and he’s just phenomenal,” said Manteca head coach Eric Reis. “The best way that we could contain him was to keep our offense out there on the ball. That’s how talented that kid is, and he’s only a junior.”
Manteca’s quarterback made it a point to make some noise of his own.
Martinez completed 14 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown. He completed six of those on a drive that stretched nearly 90 yards and ended with a score at the end of the first half to jog into the locker room at halftime with a 28-14 lead.
In the end, however, it was the total team effort that really impressed Reis in the VOL opener. The victory kept his team’s record unblemished this season but it was the small things that got the coach excited.
“What’s great is that we have different guys that we’re able to go to when we need to. It’s really a team thing,” Reis said. “What really stuck out for me tonight were things like that incredible catch that Matt Kuhnlenz made at the end of the first half to keep that drive going where we eventually able to go down and score. That gave us a good margin and that’s something that we needed.
“And then you’ve got a guy like Joe Trout who has a couple of touchdown runs and that pick-six. He’s the captain of this team and it couldn’t have happened to better kid – I’m proud of the game that he had tonight.”