It took Manteca High School less than 15 seconds to score the first touchdown of its annual rivalry game with East Union Friday night Guss Schmiedt Field.
And less than six minutes later the Buffaloes held a commanding four-touchdown lead that the Lancers never once came close to matching in a 50-15 blowout that ended in a running clock in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t really know what happened there at the start and then it becomes a little bit disappointing because you’re all of a sudden in hole that you didn’t want to be in,” East Union head coach Willie Herrera said. “That was the exactly the opposite of the way that we wanted to start the game – it really became a nightmare situation.
“But we wanted to continue to fight and we didn’t want to give up that shutout. It just got out of hand there.”
Chalk it all up to the Manteca High special teams unit.
After Jose Garcia took the opening kickoff of the game 96-yards for a touchdown, the Buffaloes responded by forcing the Lancers to punt – and then returning that punt 40-yards for a touchdown. Manteca had posted 15 points before its offense had even stepped onto the field.
After Kameron Beamon legged in a touchdown on the ground and Joshua Griffin returned another East Union punt for a touchdown, the Buffaloes had the momentum and the cushion that the needed before they even switched end zones.
“When you can take an opening kickoff back that’s huge and our special teams unit tonight really got it going, which was nice to see,” Manteca head coach Eric Reis said. “We had some issues there earlier this season and tonight we were able to get some different people involved and it was definitely a jump start for us.”
The Buffaloes played the game without a pair of significant contributors – quarterback Dakarai Charles and running back and defensive end Darrion Kitson – who were both left off the Manteca High School roster heading into Friday’s VOL closer.
But the Buffaloes didn’t skip a beat on either side of the ball thanks to Marcus Rivas filling the workhorse role – amassing 97 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries – and James Thomas emerging as a viable counter to Rivas’ power style.
Sophomore quarterback Gino Campiotti, who has started for Manteca this season, finished 7-of-10 passing for 58 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
While the Lancers failed to gain nearly any offensive traction in the first half, trailing 43-0 heading into the locker room thanks to Manteca’s stingy defense and playmaking special teams unit and an offense that showed homerun capabilities on every play, senior quarterback Jack Weaver managed to hook up with Austin Miller on a pair of second half touchdowns – coming from 7 and 61 yards, respectively.
Manteca will now await the official seeding for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Division III playoffs that are expected to be released today at 4 p.m. Manteca will assume the third automatic qualifying position for the Valley Oak League.
Depending on how things shake out, Manteca could be one of five VOL schools to make the playoffs. According to Reis, the league as a whole has become much more competitive his last season which only improves the competition heading into the postseason gauntlet.
“I think that this year there were teams that really raised the bar of competition in the VOL and it’s hard to get a win in this league,” Reis said. “East Union is a good football team but it’s a league full of good football teams and that makes each week a challenge to prepare for.”