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Hobbling Buffs get shut out at The Corral in 3rd straight loss
Bulletin sports logos


Manteca 0 0 0 0 — 0

Oakdale 7 6 0 15 — 28


First quarter

O — Kevin Camelin 13 pass from Jackson Holt (Camelin kick), 4:56.


Second quarter

O — Camelin 22 pass from Holt (run failed), 3:49.


Fourth quarter

O — Camelin 12 run (Jace Rau run), 10:48.

O — Brian Delte 52 run (Camelin kick), 7:35.

OAKDALE — With its top players out with sprained ankles, Manteca’s offense could not get untracked Friday in a 28-0 loss to Oakdale at The Corral.

The Buffaloes (3-3, 7-3 overall) are stumbling into the postseason having lost three straight for the first time since the 2003 team dropped four in a row. And the goose egg is Manteca’s first in 10 years.

The good news is their run continues beyond this disappointing result in the regular-season finale, and they may have racked up enough quality wins early in the season to hold onto a top-four seed — which comes with a first-round bye — in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.

The Section will release brackets on Sunday during a live selection show on NFHS Network.

“It’s a new season now,” Manteca coach Mark Varnum said. “It’s a reset. I think we did enough to get a first-round bye and we gotta get healthy. Let’s work to see these guys again in the playoffs. I guarantee you we’re not done.”

Oakdale (4-2, 7-2), meanwhile, has likely vaulted into one of the top two seeds with the win. Like Manteca, the Mustangs are also minus a star player in fullback Yahir Ayala, who is out for the season with a knee injury. Sidelined for the Buffs were tailback/cornerback Lyon Colon and do-it-all threat Blake Nichelson, who went into the week as the leading scorer in the state with 216 points (32 touchdowns, 22 conversions, safety).

“We’re scrambling a little bit like they are,” Oakdale coach Trent Merzon said. “We lost our best football player against Sierra (in Week 7). That’s what (Manteca is) dealing with. You just don’t lose guys like No. 20 (Nichelson) and No. 26 (Colon) and pick up from there. ‘Next man up’ sounds great, but not in high school football — this isn’t (University of) Alabama.

“We’ve been reeling a little bit just trying to find our identity,” Merzon added. “We’re banged up. Losing Yahir took a lot of wind out of our sails. We’re small, we don’t have a ton of depth but our kids ball out.”

His Mustangs did more than enough to make up for the loss of Ayala on Friday. They had six different ball carriers, and quarterback Jackson Holt (6 of 10, 75 yards, two TDs) spread the ball around to five different receivers.

Kevin Camelin stood out above all, scoring three total touchdowns while rushing 20 times for 99 yards. He also had two catches that went for 13- and 22-yard touchdowns. Brian Delta capped scoring with a 52-yard scamper up the middle on a third-and-14 play midway through the fourth quarter.

Oakdale dominated possession and outgained Manteca in yards gained, 339-209. The Buffaloes did have opportunities to score, however.

Marcus Brennan (21 rushes, 115 yards) gave Manteca a jolt of energy with a 42-yard run to the Oakdale 21-yard-line with 3 minutes to go in the second quarter. The Buffs couldn’t take advantage, as quarterback Hudson Wyatt (7 0f 13, 68 yards) scrambled on fourth-and-goal with no time left and was stopped at the 3-yard line by a big hit from Rocky Richardson to preserve a 13-0 Oakdale lead.

“We had a good play set up and they cut our receiver, so I was pretty heated about that,” Varnum said. “We still gotta make it happen. That’s a couple weeks in a row where we’ve had momentum-shifting plays at the end of half. We have to start making our own luck and just finish.”

The trend continued on their first drive of the second half, stalling out at the Oakdale 24 after Wyatt had a pass dropped by an open receiver on fourth-and-4. He was then intercepted by Mason Gilton in Buffalo territory on Manteca’s next series, ending any hope for a comeback.

“We got in our own way,” Varnum said. “It was penalties and not finishing plays and not finishing drives. This is a tough place to play and when you make mistakes and shoot yourself in the foot you take yourself out of it.”

Defensively, Manteca had trouble getting off the field as the Mustangs’ Wing-T managed to convert most of their third- and fourth-down plays. In fact, three of their touchdowns came on third down, and Holt’s 22-yard touchdown strike to Camelin was a fourth-and-7 play late in the second quarter.

“They played their butts off (on defense), but on every single score it was technique error that cost us,” Varnum said. “It goes back to finishing plays and finishing drives. Whatever it takes, we gotta get better at that.”