Rarely does a loss in the last game of the year provide momentum to build on for next season. Rarely, but not always.
Forced to find an opponent for its last game of the year due to East Union being unable to play because of COVID, Manteca looked to test its young team. The Buffaloes found a worthy opponent in McClymonds of Oakland, which knocked them out of the playoffs in 2019 in the California Interscholastic Federation Division II-A Regional Bowl Game.
And while the Warriors won 34-14 Saturday night at Guss Schmiedt Field, the Buffaloes showed they were no pushover.
“We are ready to do this again in three months again,” Manteca coach Mark Varnum said. “And these kids proved they can play with anybody. As far as I am concerned that blue banner from 2019 is still hanging on my wall and it’s going to stay there until someone comes and takes it from us. We are (Sac-Joaquin) Section champs until someone comes and takes it from us. We are ready to take that next step and we moved in that direction big-time tonight. We stood toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in Northern California.”
McClymonds (4-0) had the game in hand in the closing seconds, but rather than take a knee the Warriors punched in a final score with 13 seconds left in the game.
“This is the first time that team has had to play for quarters of football in years and they know that and that is why they had to put that cheap one in at the end to try to look better,” Varnum said. “Because a few plays here and their either way and that game could have swing really easily and they know that. They couldn’t go back to the Bay with that close of a score.”
Trailing 20-0 entering the fourth quarter, the Buffaloes (4-1) got on the board with an 18-yard pass from senior Krys Charles to Trey Moreland with 10:35 left in the game to make the score 20-6. Charles picked up 50 yards on three carries.
“It’s been fun here,” Charles said. “It’s been a long journey and I am very grateful and blessed to have played for this program. I love every one of my coaches and players.
“We have a tough team and we gave it all we could.”
Midway through the final period Khalid Robinson (15 carries, 66 yards) brought Manteca within 28-14 on a 2-yard touchdown run.
“Most of us were here last year and we saw what happened with them,” Robinson said. “And we wanted to work hard and do the best we could against these guys.
“We came in thinking we were going to win and we fought to the very end and I think overall we did a very good job as a team.”
McClymonds running back Ta’Jair Golden did not have a carry in the first half but finished with 118 yards on nine carries.
“He is just a freshman and got brought up from the JV this week,” Warriors coach Michael Peters Sr. said of Golden. We are real young. We lost a lot of guys from last year and our numbers are down.
“We had a two-week break and I am just thankful they gave us a game.”
McClymonds 0 6 14 14 — 34
Manteca 0 0 0 14 — 14
Mc — De’Veonne Sanders 66 pass from Dreyan Paul, (run fail) 7:55
Mc — Sanders 18 pass from Paul, (pass fail) 10:23
Mc — Ta’jair Golden 2 run (Paul run) 2:18
M — Trey Moreland 18 pass from Krys Charles (Alejandro Tornero kick), 10:35
Mc — Dwayne McDougal 6 pass from Paul (Golden run), 9:08
M — Khalid Robinson 2 run (Tornero kick), 6:12
Mc — Caleb Kendricks 7 pass from Paul (pass fail), 0:13