Manteca High’s freshman football team is one win away from perfection.
Led by Hector Soto’s four touchdowns and some big defensive plays by Chase McKee, the Buffaloes clinched at least a share of the Valley Oak League title with a 28-21 win over Oakdale. The first-place battle took place last Thursday at Guss Schmiedt Field, and the Buffs (6-0, 9-0 overall) were eager to get it on.
“This was a game we’ve had circled on our schedule since Week 1,“ Manteca coach Jon Shaefer said.
McKee set the tone for the defense on Oakdale’s first play from scrimmage. He forced a fumble that Steven Martinez (10 tackles) recovered, and the turnover led to Soto’s first of four touchdowns from 3 yards out.
Oakdale (5-1, 7-2) answered with 14 straight points, and after Soto rambled in for another 3-yard TD run the game was tied at 14 by halftime.
The tide fully turned early in the third quarter.
Manteca was set up on its own 40 following the second-half kickoff, and on the next play Soto jaunted 60 yards to the end zone. Shortly after Marcus Montano booted his third of four PATs, the ball was right back in the hands of the Buffaloes.
McKee came up big again on the next series, as he recovered a fumble on the Oakdale 10. Soto’s 4-yard touchdown run doubled Manteca’s lead, 28-14.
Soto finished with 226 yards on 21 rushes. Hector Soto was among Manteca’s tackle leaders with nine. Zack Hendrix forced an Oakdale turnover with a fumble recovery, and Chris Sifuentes intercepted a pass.
“As I told our players, whichever team makes the most mistakes will be going home disappointed,” Shafer said. “Tonight, we forced Oakdale into four big turnovers and didn’t turn the ball over once, which was huge.
“We played a very sound football game tonight in all phases, including special teams.”
The Buffaloes are back-to-back champions in the VOL with at least a share of the title in five of the last seven years. They will cap the season at East Union this Thursday starting at 5 p.m.
Sierra 52, Lathrop 6
In Lathrop, the Timberwolves (5-1, 7-2) scored the game’s first 46 points and led comfortably 40-0 at halftime.
Devin Nunez was in on three touchdowns: a 50-yard interception return, 5-yard pass to Roberto Silva and 6-yard run. JoJo Macias (seven carries, 83 yards), L.J. Alofaituli (5-53) and Kashari Nguyen (1-32) each contributed a rushing touchdown.
Jarrod Silveira (6 of 9, 91 yards) added a touchdown pass to Ryan Vasquez (two receptions, 44 yards). Sierra rolled to 375 total yards of offense.
Trevon McCray paced the defense with seven tackles and a forced fumble.