Eric Reis can’t wait to see how his players fare in pads.
The Manteca High football coach has high hopes for the 2016 season and liked what he saw over workouts and team competitions, but without a full-contact camp — such as the one they hosted in recent summers — it’s hard for him to truly gauge his team’s progress with opening kickoff a month away.
“It was a bummer,” Reis said of the full-contact camps, which have been banned by the state. “We really liked those camps, but it is what it is. We’ll work with what we’ve got.”
“This isn’t real football,” Reis added following a passing scrimmage with Franklin. “It’s helpful and we compete, but we won’t know until we strap it on and play for real. We’ll try to learn the best we can through that and do what we gotta do.”
While a handful of his top returners have participated in individual camps, most of the team’s activities have involved normal practices, work in the weight room and 7-on-7 competitions. The Buffaloes ended their final week of the summer program with a 7-on-7 with Lincoln. The Sac-Joaquin Section’s Dead Period started July 18 and ends Aug. 7.
Manteca also participated in a 7-on-7 tournament and lineman competition hosted by Downey of Modesto. The Buffs were also part of the Delta Junior College lineman camp won by Valley Oak League rival Weston Ranch. Manteca was the two-time defending champion at the lineman camp.
Juniors Gino Campiotti and Kyle Rachels are dueling for time at quarterback and safety. Last year, Campiotti was one of four sophomores who played on the varsity squad, and the wiry 6-foot-2 athlete showed promise. Rachels, meanwhile, led the sophomore team to a 9-1 record.
Reis is impressed by both, but he also highlighted the emergence of wide receiver Jose Garcia.
“It helps having two guys who are pretty good quarterbacks,” Reis said. “Gino has had a great summer, but the guy for us has been Jose Garcia. We’ve played Lincoln twice, and he scored maybe eight touchdowns on them and another three against St. Mary’s. He was the best player on the field.”
The Buffaloes will get to don the pads soon enough, and they’ll have an extra day to prepare for their zero week contest against Buhach Colony at Atwater High.
Their first two games, in fact, will be held on Saturdays. The following week is sure to draw some interest with Christian Brothers of Sacramento visiting. The Falcons are coming off a 9-3 season and, like Manteca, competes in Division III of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. The Sept. 3 date also marks the Christian Brothers debut of 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior quarterback Tyler Vander Waal, who started for Division I powerhouse Elk Grove as a sophomore before transferring last year.
“It’ll be a little strange starting out the year with Saturday games, but those will be two good games,” Reis said.
The Buffaloes will then host Enochs of Modesto on Sept. 9 before heading to Kimball for their Valley Oak League opener on Sept. 23.