Most offensive linemen will play their entire careers toiling in obscurity while others get the glory. Manteca Jr. Timberwolves junior varsity offensive tackle Cody Ward got a taste of that glory on Sunday.
With his Jr. Timberwolves trailing the Tracy Cougars by a touchdown in overtime of first-round action of the Delta Youth Football playoffs at Bennie Gatto Field, Manteca found itself with fourth down at the 5-yard line and its back up against the wall.
Needing to find the end zone or the Jr. Timberwolves season would end, Manteca quarterback Vic Murillo kept the ball around the left end and was stopped just past the 1. As he tried to spin into the end zone he pitched the ball to Ward who broke the plane of the goal line just inside the pylon to tie the score. The Timberwolves went on to win 24-18 and advance to the South Conference championship on Saturday.
“It felt good,” Ward said. “Our quarterback was being tackled and he pitched it to me and I got on the outside and ran it in for a touchdown.”
That tied the score at 18-18 with Manteca getting the ball first in the second overtime period. Nikko Nunez bulled the ball in from the 1 for a 24-18 Jr. Timberwolves lead and Jonah Barney ended Tracy’s season on the ensuing possession with an interception.
Midway through the fourth quarter Barney pulled in a touchdown pass from Murillo to bring Manteca within 12-6. Following a fumble recovery by Everett Hunter with 4:55 left in the game, David Kakala tied the game at 12-12 on a short run with 1:37 let in the fourth period.
Kakala made a spectacular catch on fourth and 5 on the final scoring drive, gaining 20 yards to set up the overtime-forcing touchdown.
The Jr. Timberwolves will play in the South Conference championship game Saturday at Tracy High at 3 p.m.
Jr. T’wolves 41, Modesto Empire Vikings 18
Gianni Addiego set the tone Saturday afternoon when he returned the opening kickoff 70 yards for a Jr. Timberwolves touchdown on Don Nicholson Field at Kimball High in Tracy.
Two more touchdowns by Addiego (five carries, 120 yards; one reception, 26 yards) on 13- and 38-yard runs and a 1-yard scoring plunge by Luke Abrew upped the Manteca lead to 38-0. Tommy Perea (nine carries, 55 yards) had the final two Jr. Timberwolves touchdowns on runs of 3 and 10 yards.
Addiego earned the player-of-the-game honors with his play on offense, defense and special teams. Colton Peterson was the offensive player of the game due to his outstanding play at center.
Alijah Cota made seven tackles for Manteca with Addiego (forced fumble, fumble recovery) making five stops and Caden Salas, Nolan Calmes and Sammy Haena three apiece. Mitch Lill and Turon McQuarters each recovered a fumble and Izaac Gonzales forced a fumble.
The Jr. Timberwolves will play in the South Conference championship game Saturday at Tracy High at 1 p.m.
Modesto Empire Vikings 36, Manteca Chargers 8
Jeremy Ape had the lone Chargers touchdown on a 2-yard run Sunday at Bennie Gatto Field.
Omar Diaz had 100 yards rushing for Manteca and Diaz, Ape, Gabriel Bettencourt and Lucas White all played well on defense.