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Damonte Ranch calls off weekend game in Reno against Manteca
Turlock-Manteca football
Kaden MacDannald (4) returns a kickoff against Kael McBay (3) and Turlock last Friday during Manteca’s homecoming game at Guss Schmiedt Field. - photo by Wayne Thallander

Manteca’s anticipated trip to Reno has been called off because of poor air quality stemming from the Mosquito Fire raging across El Dorado and Placer counties.

The Buffaloes (4-0) were set to face Nevada power Damonte Ranch (0-4) on Saturday. The air quality index in Reno soared over 300 early Wednesday morning, prompting Washoe County School District to shut down all campuses for the day.

“This morning they gave us the call to give us as much time as we need to find a replacement,” Manteca coach Mark Varnum said. “They’ve been out of school and can’t practice all week because the smoke is so bad and only getting worse.”

Varnum said Manteca offered to host the game this week, but Damonte Ranch would still not have enough practice time with all school activities getting cancelled. The two schools have agreed to a home-and-home series, so the Mustangs will visit Guss Schmiedt Field next year.

“We tried every avenue we could,” Varnum said.

Manteca is open to playing this week or next and travelling outside of the Sac-Joaquin Section.  The Buffs originally scheduled their bye for next week ahead of their Valley Oak League opener at Kimball on Sept. 30.

“We’re open to anything, this week or next week, anywhere, anybody and anytime,” Varnum said. “It sucks not being able to go to Reno, but hopefully we can find someone for this week or next. We’ll probably have to find someone out-of-Section. No matter who it is, we’re going to play Manteca football.”

Manteca is coming off a 59-22 homecoming romp of Turlock. Damonte Ranch is no stranger to facing tough competition outside of its area. While it remains winless, two of its losses have come against other San Joaquin County heavyweights Escalon and Lodi.