Coach Miller would have been proud.
Former Manteca football coach Joe Miller – who brought the Buffaloes their first of four Sac-Joaquin Section championships in 2001 – recently passed away. On Saturday night before the Buffaloes’ home game with talented Christian Brothers of Sacramento, his family was presented with a memorial plaque in his honor.
And almost on cue, Manteca showed who the talented team was Saturday night at Guss Schmiedt Field as the Buffaloes played Miller-style smash-mouth football, holding the Falcons to negative rushing yardage in the first half on the way to a 39-6 thumping of Christian Brothers in non-league action.
The Falcons (0-1) did not get a first down until midway through the second quarter on their fifth possession, and that came on a facemask penalty.
“We got after them,” Manteca coach Eric Reis said. “I don’t think they had a first down in their first three or four possessions. Three-and-out every single time. The defense played for keeps – we were ready to go.
“They were good. They have three guys who had scholarship offers and like I told my team, ‘We don’t have one guy (who has an offer), so let’s show them what you have,’ and I think we did.”
Although the game ended with a running clock, it was tight for a while until the Buffaloes stole the momentum for good on the last play of the first period when quarterback Gino Campiotti scrambled to connect with Joel Olmos on fourth down from the Falcons 19-yard line for a touchdown and a 10-0 lead.
“The score was 3-0 and it was fourth down,” Reis said. “I was in between, I didn’t know if I should go for a field goal that was a little too long or not.
“That catch he made changed it. It was 10-0 instead of 6-0 or maybe 3-0 and their ball. We were able to punch it in and that was huge.”
Campiotti led a balanced attack that racked up 396 yards on offense, going 8 of 11 for 124 yards with his touchdown toss to Olmos.
“This week was the first time in a while we have faced an even front,” Campiotti said. “So it was a lot of mental work and we practiced so much and so hard that it came easy.”
With Manteca (2-0) leading 32-0 in the third quarter, Buffaloes linebacker Ferrin Manuleleua came up with two big plays to kill a Christian Brothers drive deep in Manteca territory.
On third and goal from the Buffaloes 3-yard line, Manuleleua stuffed a dive in the backfield.
“I saw that they lined up in the Power I,” Manuleleua said. “I just shot the gap opened up by the linemen who got good penetration.”
Manuleleua was not done. After forcing a 1-yard loss to make it fourth down at the 4, he reacted to a pass across the middle and knocked it down to stop the Falcons drive.
“They were running a slant,” Manuleleua said. “I knew I could get in front of it and bat it down.”
Justin Kakala anchored a tough Buffaloes defensive line that pummeled Christian Brothers all night.
“We put in the work every single day in practice and try to leave it out here on the field,” Kakala said. “It is just what our defense is about.
“Our coach told us before the game that we had to win the battle up front and that is what we did.”
Like many Manteca standouts, Manuleleua splits time on both sides of the ball and had four carries for 40 yards with a 1-yard scoring plunge. Jose Garcia (nine carries, 76 yards; four receptions, 73 yards) scored on a 30-yard scamper and Kameron Beamon (nine carries, 95 yards) had a 9-yard touchdown run set up by Vincent Ferro’s second-quarter interception.
“We took it to them,” Beamon said. “The coaches told us that they had some players and they were really going to do something so we had to step it up. So we took care of business and everything fell into place.”
Seth Owings scored on a 1-yard run for Manteca with 6:36 left in the third quarter for a 39-0 lead and that score brought about a running clock in the fourth period. The Falcons salvaged a shutout when Brian Lucas scored on a 4-yard run with 8:54 left in the game.