The Rea boys have it covered.
Sophomore Dom Rea was called up after the regular season to join his brother Ben in the defensive backfield for the playoffs, and both came up big Friday night. They combined on 15 tackles, with Dom laying out to make a game-saving interception in the waning seconds of the No.2 Buffaloes’ thrilling 43-38 semifinal win over No. 3 Christian Brothers in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs at Guss Schmiedt Field.
“Dom is a special kid,” Manteca coach Eric Reis said. “We wanted to bring him up earlier but we didn’t want to raid the whole JV team. We kept him down even though we knew he was a special kid.
“He is so calm under pressure. He has not skipped one beat coming up to the varsity level. That second interception was not easy at all. We told him to keep his cushion and not let the ball go over his head and he did a good job all game long. We had to get good plays from the secondary and Dom did it.”
With barely a minute left, the Falcons (10-3) recovered a perfectly executed onside kick. Although Dom had seven tackles and an interception at this point, Christian Brothers tried to pick on him anyway. He covered a receiver on a short out pattern, giving Falcons quarterback Gunnor Faulk no target. And on the next play, Faulk tried to throw it away deep, leading to Rea making a highlight-reel interception at the 5-yard line and extending Manteca’s season at least one more week.
“The quarterback just launched it,” Dom said. “And I just went for the ball to get the ‘W’ for my team.”
Early in the third quarter, Dom had his first interception of the night, killing a long drive by Christian Brothers.
“On the first one I saw the quarterback scrambling and I knew I had to cover somebody,” Dom Rea said. “He threw it up and I came down with it.”
Buffaloes defensive coordinator Rick James had a hole to fill and knew Dom was the man for the job.
“We knew we had a need and we put a kid in a position and asked him if he could get it done,” James said. “Dom looked me in the eye and said, ‘I can get it done coach.’
“I told him to have a good week of practice and we would see what happens. He obviously came through tonight and had a couple of big picks including the one that sealed it up for us.”
Ben, a senior, had eight tackles and was ecstatic to be joined in the defensive backfield by his little brother.
“This is everything you could ask for,” Ben said. “He and I on the field at the same time is the best feeling ever.
“He got two picks and was in on a lot of tackles and I am proud of him. We both made big plays and I just like throwing my body in there.”
It does not get any easier for Manteca (11-2) as the Buffaloes earned a trip to the SJS championship game on Friday against Valley Oak League nemesis Oakdale on Friday night at 7 at Lincoln High’s Alex Spanos Stadium in Stockton.