STOCKTON — Every time the Manteca High offense was entrusted with the ball against the Weston Ranch Cougars it scored.
Every single time.
It was as close to as perfect as you can get, and the Buffaloes – who dealt Weston Ranch a crushing 79-8 defeat – did it with their second team units at the helm for the entire second half. They never missed a beat, and head coach Eric Reis couldn’t say enough about the top-to-bottom performance of a team that will battle for the Valley Oak League championship next week when they take on intracity rival Sierra High.
“I was genuinely impressed with the week of practice that we had,” Reis said. “We had to give Weston Ranch the credit that they and the respect that they deserved, and right now they’re just frustrated – they thought that they had a playoff team but they’ve had a few injuries and some things happen and it has affected them,” Reis said. “Our guys stayed focused and took care of what they needed to take care of.”
Quarterback Joe Menzel was once again masterful from the pocket, completing eight of his nine passing attempts, and helping set the tone of an explosive night by firing off a 57-yard touchdown bomb to Nick Gatehouse on the first play from scrimmage.
Gatehouse would finish with two touchdowns, and Alex Laurel scampered in twice from the backfield to complement the 56-yard punt return that helped blow the game open in the first quarter. The Buffaloes carried a 42-0 lead into the second quarter, and 63-8 at halftime.
And even after Manteca pulled its starters at the start of the third quarter, its offense continued to grind away every possession, turning to backs like Carl Chandler to keep the chains moving the points rolling on the scoreboard.
Chandler finished with 116 yards on only nine carries in the game’s second half and found the end zone twice.
“I think that when you looked at it tonight, this was a win by the whole team,” Chandler said. “If we made a few small mistakes then those are minor fixable and we’ll clean those things up and get things squared away for that big game that we have coming up next week.”
Reis said that hard work in practice and having guys like Chandler go up against Manteca’s vaunted first-team defense has improved their second-team units and given coaches no pause in calling their names when the time comes.
“That’s what is happening is that these guys are going up against our first team guys and they’re getting better and it’s starting to show on the field,” Reis said. “What helped us this week is that Weston Ranch runs a similar spread-style offense to what we’re going to see from here on out and in teams like Casa Roble and Vista Del Lago in the playoffs, so this is good preparation and we need to get better for the big picture.”