The last time Manteca and East Union entered their annual Week-10 rivalry grudge match with mirroring records was back in 2003 when both were 4-5.
Manteca won 31-7, and it has been a one-sided series since the turn of the millennium with the Buffaloes winning 16 of the last 17. In 2010, East Union stunned the then-undefeated Buffs 10-7 to qualify for the postseason for the first time since 1992.
Both teams are 7-2 and riding three-game winning streaks as they meet for the 51st time — Manteca leads the series, 36-13-1 — Friday night at Guss Schmiedt Field. They are vying for the third available automatic berth in the Valley Oak League and favorable seeds for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
“We’re going to treat it like we do every week,” Manteca quarterback Gino Campiotti said after leading a 63-0 thrashing of Sierra last Friday. “We’re going to watch a lot of film, we’re going to prepare and hopefully we walk away with a victory. A big win in that game would tell everybody a lot of things about the Manteca football program this year.”
The Buffaloes are rolling after beating Kimball, Weston Ranch and Sierra by a combined 154 points. After kicking their running game into gear for the first two blowouts, Manteca went to the air against Sierra with Campiotti completing 14 of 21 passes for 269 yards and five touchdowns in the first half.
“You want to absolutely play your best ball going into the home stretch, and we’re getting healthy, which is another big thing for us,” Manteca coach Eric Reis said. “We know next week it will be two 7-2 teams getting after it.”
East Union has done most of its damage on the ground. In last week’s 56-8 win at Weston Ranch, the Lancers amassed 504 yards from scrimmage all on running plays. Raylen Carter is the big-play threat with 761 yards and eight touchdowns, but four other rushers have at least 250 yards in their balanced pistol/Wing-T.
The two rivals are on the bubble for Divisions III and IV in the postseason, and Manteca — ranked No. 20 in the MaxPreps NorCal Top 25 — is the reigning champ in Division IV. The Buffaloes are currently projected to be the top seed in Division IV, according to MaxPreps, while East Union is seeded in Division III.
“We are trying to take this thing one game at a time,” East Union coach Willie Herrera said. “Obviously (want to) improve from weeks prior but build off of it to use to your advantage for the game staring you in the face.”
Here’s a look at other Week 10 contests in the area:
Weston Ranch (1-8) at Sierra (2-7): Tonight, the Timberwolves will look to end Chris Johnson’s first year as head coach with a victory after dropping five straight. Sierra has won 12 of its 13 showdowns with Weston Ranch.
“We have a game next week that’s a little more evenly matched,” Johnson said following the Manteca loss. “As rough as this year has been, we have a lot of inexperience. I look at the field and see only two kids on our football team that had any meaningful varsity reps last year. All you ask is for is that your kids play hard and have a good attitude and these kids have.”
Sierra is unlikely to have its top two players, QB/S Jacob Peterson and RB/CB Larenz Redd, available for its 2017 finale, as they are recovering from injuries.
The Cougars may be licking their chops after Sierra gave up six passing touchdowns to Manteca. They haven’t scored more than 18 points against VOL opponents, though quarterback Amier Bowen and receiver Larry Fairbanks have been a dangerous combination.
Kimball (1-8) at Lathrop (3-6): The season finale at Bennie Gatto Field also marks Lathrop’s final game in the VOL, as the Spartans will be in the Western Athletic Conference for at least the next four years.
They struggled against the league’s top four teams in the past five weeks, getting shut out by three of them. They’re coming off a 62-0 beating from Oakdale.
Kimball has also had a tough time scoring. Nearly half of its 85 points scored this season came in a 41-0 homecoming win over Weston Ranch.
Ripon (6-3) at Hilmar (5-4): A third Trans-Valley League championship in seven years is within reach for the Indians, who currently share first place with Escalon and Modesto Christian.
Standing in the way is the TVL’s reigning champion in Hilmar, which needs a win to guarantee a spot in the SJS playoffs. Last year’s encounter between these two was for the outright crown, and the Yellowjackets won, 21-7.
MaxPreps has Ripon projected as the No. 6 seed in Division V with a potential first-round matchup with Sonora, which has a 48-33 over the Indians this season.
Ripon Christian (6-3) at Delhi (3-6): A top seed for the playoffs could on the line for the Knights, who may be a big favorite in Division VII.
They’ll have to take care of business Friday against a Delhi team that would have been in the postseason hunt if not for three one-point losses. The Hawks played unbeaten Orestimba tough early last week before succumbing, 45-8.
Ripon Christian needed late turnovers to race away from Le Grand 34-14 in its final regular-season home game.