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Mantecas season opener moved
Will play Oakdale at Levis Stadium Saturday, Oct. 11
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Manteca was supposed to help break in Levi’s Stadium next Friday, Aug. 29.

It turns out the visit to the new $1.2 billion Santa Clara venue will have to wait.

The San Francisco 49ers announced Friday that the Levi’s Stadium Friday Night Lights doubleheader has been rescheduled and restructured in light of recent issues with the new playing surface. The field was deemed hazardous after last Sunday’s preseason game with the Denver Broncos and a 49ers practice on Wednesday as players slipped and stumbled on the slackened turf.

New sod and longer grass have been put in place for Sunday’s preseason date with the San Diego Chargers, but the team hopes to have a more permanent surface thereafter.

The grass should be greener come Oct. 11 when Manteca hosts Valley Oak League rival Oakdale. The same can be said for the Buffaloes’ jerseys. They were going to be the visiting team against Wilcox of Santa Clara. Originally scheduled to host Oakdale on Oct. 10, the Buffs will end up in their home greens the following day.

“We have brand new green jerseys for home games, and the players were wishing they could play in them next Friday at Levi’s Stadium,” Manteca head coach Eric Reis said. “We were like, ‘Well, you guys wanted the green so bad.’”

The much-anticipated event was going to feature two games involving Northern California powers. The Manteca-Wilcox rematch was to take place at 4:30 p.m. with ESPN airing nationally-regarded De La Salle’s nightcap against Jesuit. The two matchups are still on but will be held at different venues. Wilcox plays host to Manteca next Friday at around 7:15 p.m. following the sophomore contest.

All four teams will still get a chance to play at the stadium, but four more have been added for what will be two doubleheaders on back-to-back nights. Hometown favorites Santa Clara and Wilcox kick off the event on Friday, Oct. 10 with Sacramento-area rivals Elk Grove and Jesuit to follow.

Reis told the Bulletin Friday night that the Manteca-Oakdale game is set to kick off at noon the next day. De La Salle will then encounter Union City’s James Logan.

“It works out pretty well because we’ll have games with more history to them,” said Manteca athletic director Dave Smith, who was informed of a possible rescheduling Wednesday. He added that the program will be compensated for gate and concessions sales lost from the Oakdale game, which is annually one of the biggest and most lucrative for the host school in this traditional rivalry.

“Levi’s Stadium and the 49ers aren’t doing this to make huge profits,” Smith said. “They have been good about giving these student-athletes an opportunity to experience this, and they want to make it right for everybody involved.”

Reis said players were informed of the changes before practice Friday.

“They knew nothing about it until practice today,” he said. “They were real bummed at first, but once they got over it things quickly went back to normal. We’re still going to Santa Clara next Friday and we’re still playing a very good Wilcox team, so that part of it isn’t changing.”

Wilcox visited Manteca last year and handed the Buffaloes their lone regular-season defeat, 28-27. This interesting inter-section affair was decided in overtime when Manteca fumbled the snap on a 2-point conversion attempt. Wilcox (9-2) when on to secure a share of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division title and earned an invitation to the challenging Central Section Open playoffs. Manteca (13-2) captured VOL and Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championships and made its first-ever appearance in a CIF State Regional Bowl Game.