From the opening kickoff Manteca owned the first half Friday night against visiting rival East Union.
At the end, the Buffaloes owned a piece of the Valley Oak League title. They scored 41 points in the first two quarters on the way to a 62-7 victory in the regular-season finale at Guss Schmiedt Field.
Coupled with Oakdale’s 42-39 upset at Central Catholic, the result forces a three-way share of the league championship and puts the Buffaloes (5-1 VOL, 8-2 overall) in Division III for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. Brackets will be announced Sunday afternoon.
It did not take long for Manteca to get on the scoreboard Friday.
East Union won the coin toss but deferred to the second half, and Dominic Rea made the Lancers pay for that decision by returning the opening kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown.
The rout was on.
“The biggest thing we talked about was playing a complete game in all three phases and we definitely did that,” Buffaloes coach Mark Varnum said. “We ran the opening kick back and you can’t be upset with that.
“Our defense is definitely hitting their peak now and our offense was slow at times, but you can’t be upset with how many points we scored tonight. It’s all coming together at the right time and I hope we can keep it rolling.”
The Manteca defense limited the Lancers to just 25 first-half yards and Quincy Robinson had the marquee play for the Buffaloes, returning one of his two interceptions 75 yards for a touchdown as time expired in the first half to give Manteca (5-1, 8-2) that 41-0 halftime lead.
“I saw it was going to be an overthrow,” Robinson said. “And as soon as I caught it I knew I had to do something with it.
“I depended on my teammates to block for me and I took it back to the house for 75 yards.”
Ryan Ward did a phenomenal job of directing the offense for the Buffaloes, going 11 of 18 for 273 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
“This is a great win against our crosstown rivals, particularly with stuff that has happened over the years,” Ward said. “It’s nice to have new weapons to hit.”
Sunny Dozier was Ward’s newest weapon, pulling in four receptions for 144 yards with touchdown catches of 57 and 37 yards barely two minutes apart late in the first half
“I haven’t been playing well lately,” Dozier said. “So like all of my teammates, I worked hard in practice this week so we could make sure they had no chance to get into the playoffs.
“We pretty much executed all our stuff like we were supposed to. We started with that first score and it was a good one.”
As usual, Trabron Russell was the workhorse for Manteca, grinding out 119 yards on 17 carries with a pair of 1-yard scoring runs and a 40-yard touchdown run. Jacob De Jesus pulled in four receptions for 120 yards with a 32-yard touchdown catch from Ward. Leonardo Bonilla capped off the Buffaloes scoring parade with a 1-yard plunge.
East Union looked like a different team to start the second half, marching 75 yards on the opening drive of the third quarter and scoring on a 6-yard run by Lance Cefalu to make the score 41-6. Zelmar Vedder had an interception for the Lancers in the first half.
“In the second half we came out and stayed on our blocks a little bit longer,” East Union coach Willie Herrera said. “We wanted to tighten it up and it was a challenge, but it worked.
“Our boys fought hard and there was no give up. The effort was there and the want-to was there. The scoreboard was not indicative of how this game went. It was a hard-fought game for four quarters and our guys did not give up.”
East Union 0 0 7 0 — 7
Manteca 13 28 21 0 — 62
M—Dominic Rea 70 kickoff return (Kevin Thornburg kick), 11:47
M—Trabron Russell 4 run (kick fail), 6:38
Second quarter `
M—Russell 1 run (Thornburg kick), 4:58
M—Sunny Dozier 57 pass from Ryan Ward (Alejandro Tornero kick), 2:58
M—Dozier 37 pass from Ward (Russell run), :37
M—Quincy Robinson 75 interception return (pass fail), :00
E—Lane Cefalu 6 run (Cameron Torres kick), 6:59
M—Russell 1 run (Tornero kick), 4:58
M—Leonardo Bonilla 1 run (Tornero kick), 3:16
M—Jacob DeJesus 32 pass from Ward (Tornero kick). :21