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Buffs Menzel king on homecoming night
Manteca Highs Michael Hatfield pulls in a touchdown pass Friday one of five that quarterback Joe Menzel threw in the Homecoming win. - photo by CHRIS LEONARD/

Joe Menzel’s numbers weren’t gaudy.

The Manteca High quarterback didn’t complete double-digit passes and his box score likely isn’t going to send shivers down the spine of VOL rivals that Manteca will face in the coming weeks.

But the only number that he really needs to hang his hat on is five – the number of touchdowns he threw in only one half of play in the Buffaloes’ 56-7 homecoming rout of the Lathrop Spartans Friday night at Guss Schmiedt Field.

The senior signal-caller already had an 8-0 lead before he stepped onto the field thanks to Dom Pisano’s 70-yard interception return that stifled a relatively strong Spartan opening drive.

And his first two passes on Manteca’s opening drive were a bit off-target. But he connected when it mattered and did so with the flair and panache of somebody that has been at his craft forever, finding Michael Hatfield in the back corner of the end zone for a toe-dragging touchdown that fired up the Manteca sideline and jumpstarted an offensive juggernaut.

“We’re a little bit different animal than what we normally are, and a big part of that is because we have a good quarterback that’s able to throw the ball well,” Manteca head coach Eric Reis said. “Joe (Menzel) was very good out there tonight, and he’s leading kind of a different approach for us – instead of run-first we’re able to keep teams honest with a passing game.”

Menzel finished the game 9-of-13 passing with 121 yards and five scoring strikes. He and Alex Laurel hooked up four times, and three of those receptions were in the end zone for touchdowns.

 “The defense made a lot of stops tonight and that gave us a chance to show just how explosive of an offense we can be,” Menzel said. “The line gave me forever back there and guys like Alex (Laurel) just make it look easy. It was a great night for us offensively, and it was undoubtedly a team effort to get it done.”

Lathrop found the scoreboard for the first and only time with no time left on the clock in the third quarter when quarterback Kenny Garrett threw a 7-yard pass to Mykhail Redmond.

With Manteca’s defense all but eliminating the Spartan running game in the first half, Garrett was forced to make plays with his arm – connecting with his receivers on 21 of his 36 attempts. He passed for 325 yards, and threw one interception.

“We did some really nice things offensively tonight. We threw the ball well and I thought we had a lot of momentum early on,” Wichman said. “They were just able to capitalize when they needed to. I think our guys built up a little bit of confidence, and they’re starting to believe in what they can do more and more.”