STOCKTON – An intense dose of Eddie Smith, superior secondary play from Manteca combined with an overmatched Edison Vikings squad and the Buffaloes cruised to a 34-6 season-opening win Friday.
Smith carried the ball on 17 of Manteca’s first 23 carries, going through the Vikings for 126 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. Smith finished as strong as he started in minimal second-half action, getting four yards in all but one of his second-half carries.
“Eddie Smith ran really hard tonight,” Manteca head coach Eric Reis said. “He showed what we wanted to see, so we were really happy with what we saw there.
“We were able to run the ball, so I was real happy.”
The Buffaloes ransacked Edison for 351 yards rushing, getting 164 from Smith and another 85 from junior Michael Gonzalez on a measly six carries. Manteca’s almost effortless dominance up front was definitely the difference in each of the first three quarters.
“The offensive line made holes everywhere,” Smith said. “I couldn’t have done it without them. Even with Issac McClain out and other lineman, we had some guys come in and step up.
“They worked hard and they made holes for us.”
As dominant as the Buffaloes interior offensive linemen were consecutive first-half big plays from the secondary push the game in its direction. After putting his first imprint on the contest with a beautiful open-field tackle on third down, senior Roger Rhodes intercepted Edison quarterback Julian Garcia to set up Smith’s first touchdown.
His secondary mate Brandon Manchester would add the second pick, stepping in front of a Garcia pass and returning it inside the 20-yard line to set up the Buffaloes’ third score.
“The thing that stood out to me was how happy I was with our DBs tonight,” Reis said. “They tackled real well in space on this field-turf; I was extremely happy with that.
“We got punched in the face with that one huge run (41 yards on Calvin Gray’s first carry), but from that point on I thought we played real solid defense.”
The Buffaloes’ defense held Edison in check throughout, but the Vikings were able to get on the board when defensive back Carlnelious Mcgee scooped up a fumble and raced 65 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Offensively, Edison only managed 73 yards in the air and 55 rushing, 41 coming on the first carry of the game.