The Buffaloes are going bowling once again, only this time — and for the first time — they’ll get to do so on their own turf.
Manteca High’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship football team has been paired with St. Francis of Mountain View for the CIF State Division II-A Northern California Regional Bowl Game, which takes place at Guss Schmiedt Field this Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Aquinas (14-0) of San Bernardino squares off with Grace Bretheren (12-2) of Simi Valley in the Division II-A SoCal Bowl Game. The winners of each regional will meet at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium on Saturday, Dec.16 at noon for a state championship.
“It’s kind of neat,” Manteca coach Eric Reis said. “We went into it with no expectations, just let the chips fall where they fall. Turns out we’re able play at home. It’s definitely a good feeling to have home-field advantage. We had a good crowd on Friday (at Lincoln High’s Spanos Stadium for the D-III title game) and hopefully we can have a crowd like that at Manteca High School.
It will be the third NorCal appearance for the Buffs (12-2), who are seeking their first win at the state level. They lost to Enterprise of Redding (2013) and Menlo-Atherton of Atherton (2016) on their previous tries.
Manteca stunned top-seeded Oakdale 34-17 for its sixth overall section crown last Friday, avenging a 36-15 Valley Oak League loss in the process. Oakdale was the reigning SJS Division III and CIF State Division III-A champion. The Buffaloes, seeded second, claimed the SJS Division IV title last season and are on an eight-game winning streak since the Oct. 6 defeat at Oakdale.
Reis isn’t a fan of Saturday games but said his team could use the extra day of rest after spending the weekend celebrating the big win.
“In lieu of what just occurred, we’ll need another day to soak it in before turning the page on it,” Reis said. “It still feels surreal.”
The NorCal Division II-A contest features two teams that placed third in powerhouse conferences. St. Francis (9-4) is a member of the West Catholic Athletic League, and the Lancers fell short against WCAL rival Serra of San Mateo 31-30 in the Central Coast Section Open Division II final.
Manteca has already faced one team out of the WCAL, opening the season with a 22-20 win over Valley Christian of San Jose. Valley Christian beat St. Francis 28-21 on its way to a runner-up finish behind Serra.