Manteca hasn’t had it easy through six weeks of the 2017 season, which includes a split with two highly-ranked teams and an improbable comeback win on the road.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Buffaloes, who carry a 4-1 record into their next great challenge. They’re heading to Oakdale on Friday, and the reigning CIF State Division III-A champion is 81-7 in its last 88 games at The Corral.
Sixteenth-year Manteca head coach Eric Reis is 5-10 against Oakdale’s Trent Merzon, his old Delta College teammate. Only one of those wins was at The Corral (2013), and it also marked Reis’ 100th career victory.
Oakdale is 51-41-4 all-time against the Buffs, who won the last meeting in a 30-22 nail-biter after leading by 23 points early in the fourth quarter. It came down to Marc Dickson’s deflected Hail Mary pass in the end zone in the final seconds.
It has already been an eventful year for Manteca, starting with a 22-20 win over Valley Christian, the No. 1-ranked team in the Central Coast Section, according to Maxpreps. The Buffaloes overcame a late two-score deficit to edge Christian Brothers 36-35 the following week, and three goal-line turnovers cost them dearly in a 31-14 loss to Central Catholic in their Valley Oak League opener. Their other wins were shutouts over Enochs and Lathrop.
Oakdale, also 4-1, should be well rested for Friday’s big game. The Mustangs’ four wins are blowouts, which have allowed their starters to rest in second halves. Their lone defeat, 45-29 came at the hands of Folsom, slotted No. 2 in the MaxPreps NorCal top 25. Oakdale and Manteca are Nos. 11 and 15 on the MaxPreps NorCal rankings, while Central Catholic sits at No. 8. The three teams shared the 2016 VOL championship.
Oakdale has had little resistance in VOL play thus far, first trampling East Union for a 24th straight year, 42-6. The Mustangs then trounced Weston Ranch 59-18, totaling 489 yards — mostly on the ground — in the process.
Cameron Cherry and Josh Jacobson star in Oakdale’s effective Wing-T offense, while two-way linemen Nico Sarale and Matt Klejldgaard (committed to Fresno State) are being recruited by NCAA Division-I programs.
In other Week 6 action:
Central Catholic (4-0) at East Union (4-1): The Lancers have had a tough go so far in the VOL.
Last week, they escaped Kimball with a 20-7 thanks to big plays from Raylan Carter (81-yard run) and Levi Huffman (93-yard interception return) in the final three minutes.
It only gets tougher for East Union with one of Northern California’s best squads visiting Dino Cunial Field. Since their return to the VOL, the Raiders have beaten EU by an average margin of 40 points.
Lathrop (2-3) at Sierra (2-3): There are postseason implications in this matchup of intra-district rivals.
Both teams are coming off lopsided losses, with Sierra losing to Central Catholic 48-7 and Lathrop to Manteca, 50-0.
The Timberwolves lead 6-2 in the all-time series, but Lathrop has won the last two. Friday’s contest will feature two of the most dynamic running backs in the Manteca area — Sierra’s Larenz Redd and Michael Ramos for Lathrop.
Weston Ranch (1-4) at Kimball (0-5): Weston Ranch and Kimball are the only two teams without a VOL win this season.
Kimball is looking to snap a 13-game skid after missing an opportunity to do so last week against East Union. Weston Ranch blanked the Jaguars 20-0 for its lone VOL victory of 2016.
Ripon (3-2) at Mountain House (4-1): There is much parity in the Trans-Valley League, which kicks off Friday. Ripon opens with much-improved Mountain House, which is in its third season under Jason McCloskey. After winning their first four of 2017, the Mustangs dropped a 34-19 decision to Fortuna (5-1) as they were done in by turnovers and penalties.
Denair (2-3) at Ripon Christian (3-2): Ripon Christian rebounded well from its 40-0 loss to Orestimba two weeks ago, following that up with a 28-7 win at Waterford.
The Knights will play at home for the first time in a month Friday. They started the season with blowout wins over Millennium and Stone Ridge Christian on the road, while Denair split against those two teams in more competitive contests.