By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Manteca secures playoff berth with emphatic rivalry win
East Union defender Eddie Daube goes in pursuit of Manteca running back Eddie Smith, who opened the game with a 77-yard touchdown run. - photo by HIME ROMERO

The Manteca High Buffaloes left little to chance on Friday.

With a playoff berth on the line, they dismantled longtime Valley Oak League rival East Union High at Dino Cunial Field, 55-0.

“We were prepared to play tonight,” said Buffaloes coach Eric Reis, who made sure his team didn’t overlook the Lancers (1-6, 1-9) regardless of the record.

He added, “We treated them with the respect that they deserve.”

Manteca (5-2, 6-4) was flagged down on three straight false-start penalties to kick off the game.

No matter. The Buffaloes’ first clean snap resulted in Eddie Smith’s 77-yard touchdown run. “Our line just fired out– they were ready,” Reis said.

East Union showed some flashes on defense in the first half as Brennan Koeller, Anthony Flores and Jeremy Turner each made big stops.

Manteca countered with the likes of Sal Pena and Keoki Farrish delivering tackles in the EU backfield.

The Buffaloes, who are awaiting their first-round foe for next week, soon built up a 21-0 first-quarter lead.

Quarterback Ryan Fox capped the second drive with a 6-yard run.

Moments later, T.J. Galdos hauled in a 35-yard touchdown pass to further extend the lead. Brandon Dabney helped setup that score with an interception at midfield.

Manteca outgained the Lancers, 363-89. East Union’s biggest play from scrimmage was a 31-yard pass from quarterback Aaron Ramos to junior tight end Clay Cuneo in the second half.

The Buffaloes increased their lead to 41-0 before halftime.

Paul Paulino scored on a 3-yard play up the gut. Alex Laurel followed that up with a 47-yard punt return for a TD, fielding a low, line-drive kick.

Manteca’s defense scored on a botched exchange at the snap. As a result, Smith, who also plays linebacker, pounced on the loose ball in the end zone.

Marcus Montano kicked the extra point.

The Lancers forced a turnover early in the second half, with Jeremiah Preston recovering the fumble. They were unable to capitalize on the miscue.

When the Buffaloes got the ball back, they scored quickly thanks to Alex Laurel’s sweep from midfield.

Manteca went with the reserves for most of the second half. Michael Gonzalez, for one, made the most of his playing time by scoring on a 34-yard run.

“We just kept it going,” said Reis. “The next guys came in and played hard football.”

East Union closed out the season by recognizing its seniors.

“They left everything out on the field,” said Lancers coach Willie Herrera. “That’s why they were so emotional after the game.”