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Revitalized Buffaloes have momentum for postseason opener
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WHAT: SJS D-III playoffs

WHO: (11) Manteca vs. (6) Inderkum

WHERE: Inderkum High (Sacramento)

WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.

ADMISSION: $10 adults, $7 seniors/students, Free for kids 5-under

As the Manteca football team prepares for the second-season, the importance of one of the Buffaloes’ second halves looms as a pivotal moment. Getting ready for a trip to Sacramento to open the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs, probably would have probably been an afterthought if weren’t for halftime up at Sonora.

Manteca trailed the host Wildcats back on Oct. 12 by a score and in hindsight it proves to be the foundation of the team’s late-season run. Manteca wasn’t playing for a league title or a playoff spot that night. That night, the group was on a task to prove something to itself.

“I would say that halftime in Sonora was pretty much the turning point for our entire season,” Manteca head coach Eric Reis said. “Up until that point we were lethargic and we told them if we come out like that again we’ll be done. I really do think that from that point on this team has been different.

“From the way they handle their business; even when we played Lathrop and East Union we came out focused.”

The challenge Manteca met on that night in October has definitely become the foundation of the Buffaloes’ upcoming postseason run. Their 6-4 mark enabled Manteca a shot and now the group will likely have to put together its best performance of the season to get through No. 6 seed Inderkum.

The Tigers closed out the regular season with 8-2, picking up the pace over the final four contests.  They outscored their final four opponents 153-13 and could definitely pose challenges for Manteca with a familiar offensive set. The Tigers’ wing-T formation will be without the services of senior running back-defensive back-kick returner Eric Walters, who was removed from the team by head coach Terry Stark.

“They are a wing-T team and I think we saw a really good wing-T team in Week 9,” Reis said of the Buffaloes’ matchup with Oakdale. “It was two weeks ago and we’re hoping the experience we gained from playing Oakdale will be something that will help us for Week 11.

“That’s what league should be. Hopefully, it’s like where iron sharpens iron and you can take it to other teams.”

Inderkum finished second in the Tri-City League standings to SJS Division-II No. 2 seed and league champion Yuba City. The Tigers’ two losses came to Yuba City and a late September loss to Rocklin. Both teams are expected playoff factors, revealing the type of demand that is before the Buffaloes. The Buffaloes will tote confidence from an impressive 5-0 road record throughout the regular season.

“On defense we have to limit the big play, Reis said of his team’s chances. “Watching their offense is like watching the Oregon-USC game; you just see them (gain) 20 yards, 30 yards with these gaping big holes. We have to see if we can make them go 80 yards at five yards a pop.

“Offensively, our best defense is to keep our offense on the field. We have to try and keep possession of the ball; that is something that has to happen.”