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Struggling squads want strong finish
Willie Herrera ends his third season as East Unions head coach this Friday when the Lancers lock up with traditional rival Manteca at Guss Schmiedt Field. - photo by Bulletin file photo

Lathrop, East Union and Weston Ranch didn’t produce the results they hoped for prior to the start of the season.

On Friday, the road doesn’t get any easier for these squads that have a combined five wins on the year going into their final games.

Weston Ranch (2-4 VOL, 3-6 overall) will visit Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium to face Sac-Joaquin Section playoff-bound Sierra (4-2, 6-3), which will be looking to bounce back from a 35-14 loss to Manteca last week that decided the VOL title.

East Union will head to Guss Schmiedt Field to face the league champion Buffaloes (6-0, 8-1) during its season finale at 7:25 p.m.

Lathrop (1-5, 1-8) has one win under its belt so far, a 35-15 victory over the Lancers on Oct. 18, and will host Kimball at Paul Wiggin Stadium at 7:25 p.m.

The Spartans scored three touchdowns during a 35-point loss to Oakdale last week and are feeling optimistic about Friday’s finale against the Jaguars, who lost by one against Sonora last week after surprising the six-time VOL champ Oakdale, 35-14.

“Kimball is a good team, they’re very talented,” Lathrop head coach Steve Wichman said. “But the motivation we’re taking into this is this is the last game and it’s the last opportunity for the seniors to suit up and play on their home field. We’re hoping that intensifies the emotion a little bit and we can come out and play at our best ability.”

Wichman says Lathrop will have to focus on a few talented players from Kimball (3-3, 4-5) — running back Gaige Allen in particular. Allen has 16 touchdowns this season and has already eclipsed a 1,000 yard rushing season with 1,085.

Lathrop will have junior running back and linebacker Hawaii Leaf a Teo back healthy as well as junior Jairell McClain, who is back from a turf toe injury.

Leaf a Teo has been the Spartans’ leader this season and Lathrop will be looking toward him to provide a lift and perhaps help end the season on a positive note.

“Things didn’t go our way, but we stayed strong and played hard,” said Leaf a Teo, who noted how detrimental the 35-29 loss to Weston Ranch was during the league opener. “This Friday night we want to end it with a good win, and that win could carry into next year.”

East Union (0-6, 1-8) will travel to face cross-town rival Manteca, who it hasn’t beaten since 2010 when it defeated the Buffaloes 10-7.

The Lancers suffered a heart-breaking 20-19 loss to Weston Ranch after a missed extra point failed to send the game to overtime last week, and haven’t won a game since a 63-14 win over Orestimba Sept. 6.

“This rivalry is what it is no matter if we’re in last place or their in first place, or if the roles are reversed,” East Union head coach Willie Herrera said. “This game means a lot to both sides. My guys are hungry, and obviously we don’t have next week. This is it.”

East Union will undoubtedly have its hands full with Manteca, which is prepping to make a run in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

“We busted our butts throughout the whole year,” said junior Angel Roblero, who started on both sides of the ball and had 54 tackles at linebacker.

“(Manteca) isn’t just a game, it’s our last game and the seniors go off. We just want to ruin their party.  They’re looking forward to punching us in our mouth, but we just want to bust them in their face and turn out victorious.”

Seth Davis’ Weston Ranch squad will be looking for its fourth win of the season Friday at 7 p.m., but the Timberwolves will not be giving away any gifts as they tune some things up before the playoffs are slated to begin Nov. 15.