LATHROP — With Ryan Ward directing the offense, Manteca came out of the gate on fire Friday night, racking up 403 first-half yards with 49 unanswered points on the way to a 64-14 non-league win over Lathrop at Bennie Gatto Field to begin the 2018 campaign.
“This is what we prepared for,” first-year Manteca coach Mark Varnum said. “And the kids made it happen”
The Buffaloes (1-0) limited Spartans to 48 first-half yards.
“Our No. 1 defense came out to play,” Varnum said. “They have a chip on their shoulder because some people are questioning them because of all the new faces out there.
“They definitely came to play and they will keep it up.”
Ward was masterful, completing 11 of 14 passes for 228 yards with touchdown passes of 18 and 50 yards to Jorge Cedano and 14 yards to Jacob DeJesus.
“This was the first game and I was excited to play,” Ward said. “We have been working on this since January, and the receivers really did their job tonight.”
Trabron Russell ran wild for Manteca, gaining 182 yards on 15 carries with touchdown runs of 4, 6, 12 and 24 yards.
“Tonight was a good team effort,” Russell said. “In the first game there can be mental mistakes and physical mistakes, but we didn’t have a lot of those.
“Our line did good letting me know where the holes were going to be and there was good communication overall.”
DeJesus added a 60-yard scoring run, and Miguel Sequeira capped the night’s scoring with a 40-yard run with 2:30 remaining.
Gabe Ramirez helped lead the stingy Manteca defense with a forced fumble.
“We had a lot of big playmakers out there on the field,” Ramirez said. “Everyone has to do their part and good things will come out of it in the end.
“I’m glad that we do regular takeaway drills.”
With 8:14 left in the third quarter, Lathrop quarterback Justin Manuel (9 of 15 passing, 139 yards) took a vicious shot but managed to get the ball away for a 72-yard touchdown pass to Maurice Saulsbury II (five catches, 121 yards) and get the Spartans on the board.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Lathrop coach Joe Pirillo said. “We just wanted to work on our stuff. The good thing is our guys never quit and we got better as the game went on
“Manuel made some mistakes in the first half, and came out in the second half and was being the playmaker we wanted him to be. And he did take some shots tonight.”
The Spartans got one more score when workhorse Sebastian Iniguez (25 carries, 78 yards) bulled the ball in from a yard out with 7:40 left in the game.
Isaac Searcy and Anthony Martinez Jr. each had a fumble recovery for the Buffaloes and Marcus Mota recovered an onside kick for Lathrop.
Manteca 28 21 8 7 — 64
Lathrop 0 0 6 8 — 14
M — Trabron Russell 24 run (kick fail), 9:20.
M — Jacob DeJesus 60 run (Russell run), 7:33.
M — Russell 6 run (Kevin Thornburg kick), 4:33.
M — DeJesus 14 pass from Ryan Ward (DeJesus kick), 0:26.
M — Jorge Cedano 18 pass from Ward (Thornburg kick), 5:47.
M — Russell 4 run (Thornburg kick), 2:21.
M — Cedano 50 pass from Ward (Thornburg kick), 0:27.
L — Maurice Saulsbury II 72 pass from Justin Manuel (kick fail), 8:14.
M —Russell 12 run (Anthony Martinez pass from DeJesus), 4:18.
L — Sebastian Iniguez 1 run (Iniguez pass from Justin Manuel), 7:40.
M — Miguel Sequeira 40 run (Thornburg kick), 2:30.