The 2010 shocker heard ‘round the city has been revisited “a lot of times” this week by Manteca head coach Eric Reis.
While it’s a benchmark moment for East Union’s program, Willie Herrera — then the defensive coordinator for the Lancers — wants his 2016 squad to keep its attention on the now.
The two oldest Manteca Unified schools will meet for the 50th time Friday at Guss Schmiedt Field. It has been a one-sided series with Manteca (5-1 Valley Oak League, 8-1) holding a 35-13-1 lead and winning 15 of the last 16 going back to 2000.
But the one loss still burns Reis to this day.
In 2010, his Buffaloes rolled into the Week 10 rivalry showdown fresh off a rare win over Oakdale and were primed to wrap up a 10-0 regular season. East Union, a heavy underdog, was 6-3 but needed to win to guarantee a berth to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
The Lancers — who gave up 63 and 68 points to Oakdale and Sonora earlier that season — spoiled Manteca’s bid for perfection with a 10-7 win.
“Devastating,” Reis said.
It only got worse for Manteca.
Seeded first for the SJS Division III playoffs, No. 16 Vanden rocked the Buffaloes 55-22 the following week.
“That was pretty embarrassing,” Reis said.
Manteca could again earn a top seed, be it in Division III or IV, with a win Friday. Several projections have the Buffaloes dropping down to Division IV because of their enrollment, but Reis is making sure his players are focused on what’s ahead of them.
“There is so much speculation about where we’re going and I told the guys I don’t care about the playoffs, all I care about is this game,” Reis said. “We keep bringing up 2010 as a reminder that hey, you have to respect your opponent and every game matters. We’re taking this one very seriously.”
There is also plenty on the line for East Union (3-3, 6-3). Even with a loss the Lancers are likely playoff bound, but a win Friday would boost their seeding.
Herrera, who took over for Mike James as head coach the following year, said the 2010 upset hasn’t been used as a source of motivation this week. East Union has only made two postseason appearances since 1992.
“The 2010 game was a great win and I’ll never forget that game, but we’re not hanging our hat on it,” Herrera said. “I tell our guys this team is different than that team. What happened in 2010 isn’t a highlight for this year.”
The 2010 game does bear some resemblance to the upcoming 50th rendition of this cross-town series, says Reis.
Although Manteca is not undefeated, a VOL title is still in reach should Oakdale (5-1, 7-2) knock off Central Catholic (6-0, 7-2) at home. And like in 2010, the Buffaloes are coming off a 30-22 win over Oakdale.
Reis also gave a nod to the “dynamic quarterbacks” of both East Union teams — Teejay Gordon in 2010 and current third-year starter Jack Weaver (952 yards passing, 12 TDs, two picks; 468 rushing yards, seven TDs).
“The difference for East Union now than in years past is they are much more physical and they have some size up front,” Reis said.
Manteca’s defense has been stout for much of the season, recording three straight shutouts at one point while holding Oakdale to just seven points through three quarters last week. Trailing 30-7 with 9:45 to go, the Mustangs mounted an improbable comeback that ended with a failed Hail Mary pass on the final play.
“It would have been nice to win by more than we did but getting put under the fire overall will make us better,” Reis said. “The guys were put in a pressure situation and performed in it.
“We’ve played some really good teams and some of the better ones in our league the past couple of weeks, so hopefully it prepares us for the playoffs moving forward.”
Win or lose Friday, Herrera wants to see his team perform at a high level from opening kickoff to final buzzer. He doesn’t question the wire-to-wire effort from last week’s 41-0 loss to four-time reigning state champion Central Catholic, which led 14-0 at halftime but ultimately blew it open with help from the Lancers’ own miscues.
“We need to execute,” Herrera said. “We haven’t played a full four quarters yet. Except for three big plays, we made Central Catholic earn their touchdowns. If we can eliminate big plays and play four quarters of football I think we can do well.”