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Football Preview

The Bulletin-Thursday, August 24, 2017

RESPECTABILITY TO RESPECT East union reloads after rare postseason appearance

JoJo Espinosa, middle, will lean on senior left tackle Jaysen Reindel and returning wide receiver Matthew Pilkay in his first season at quarterback for East Union. HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin

By J ONAMAR J AC INTO Th e B ulle t i n

HOUSE HERRERA Head coach: Willie Herrera (7th year, 13-46) Staff: Jason Stock (assistant head coach, offensive coordinator), Daniel Taylor (QB), Barry Keith (OL/DL), Eddie Koeller (WR), Eleazar Salcedo (DL), Steve Barrios (LB), Frank Johnson (K/Character & Development), Jarod Ballardo (OL/DL).

East Union is no longer satisfied with just getting to the dance. Coming off their second Sac-Joaquin Section playoff appearance in 25 years, the Lancers want to take the next step toward competing for titles and garnering respect. “You go around town and no one really talks about East Union football in a positive light yet,” two-way lineman Jaysen Reindel said. “That’s our goal. We want to slowly but surely change our name and improve it to where it never has been before.” They’ll have to do it with a new quarterback and eight new starters on defense. The team graduated many of its stars from the 2016 season in which it finished 6-5 and fourth in the Valley Oak League at 3-4. Leading the way were third-year starting QB Jack Weaver, his top receiver and cornerback Jake Harries, offensive guard/inside linebacker Joseph Reynaga and running back/safety Angel Sena. Their postseason run did not last long, as Del Campo hammered them 49-13 in the first round. “Last year was a big learning experience and us seniors got a lot out of that,” Lancer wide out/defensive back Matthew Pilkay said. He and Reindel are now among the leaders, and East Union replenished its senior-loaded roster from 2016 with a talented junior class that hasn’t experienced a losing season. The Class of 2019 went 10-0 at the freshman level and 6-4 as sophomores, dropping three of its final four to VOL powers Oakdale, Central Catholic and Manteca. “We lost games and lost key players at the same time, but that’s no excuse,” junior quarterback JoJo Espinosa said. “As the quarterback a loss on my shoulders. It’s my job to take this team to the next level.” The Lancers are eager to get there, and it shows in their work ethic, head coach Willie Herrera said. Players are

taking it upon themselves to put in the extra work at local gyms and with personal trainers. “As coaches, we went into camp saying ‘we have to fix this and we have to fix that,’” Herrera said. “The kids were already self-aware of what needed to get done and started doing it themselves. They saved us a lot of time. We have a bunch of kids who genuinely want to get better.” Here are other things to watch for the Lancers this season: THE MOUNTAIN …: Improved line play was instrumental in the Lancers’ turnaround in 2016. They are once again deep up front on both sides of the ball and hope to bring the same kind of nastiness. Reindel will stand out as the most imposing figure at 6-foot-2, 260 pounds at left tackle. He and right guard Nick Sims (5-9, 185) were All-VOL secondteam selections. Anthony Anaya (6-0, 245) takes over at center with fellow juniors Thomas Cann (6-0, 195) and Kyle Stengel (5-11, 225) penciled in at the other starting spots. “This year we have five linemen, five dudes were born in the trenches,” Reindel said. “It’s where they do their work. Our size has improved, even our play recognition and call-back. We’ve gotten smarter on the line, and I’m really excited to see what we can do this year.” All-league second teamer Elias Andrews (5-8, 235) leads the D-line along with Reindel. It’s a position of strength on the defense, which will have eight new starters. … AND THE RED VIPER: Espinosa will be easy to spot on Friday nights with his shiny gold-bottom cleats. He understands there are big shoes to fill in succeeding Weaver, who is now at College of Idaho. “It’s high expectations, but to me it’s Jack,” he said. “I love Jack. He’s a great player and he’s taught me some things since I got to the school. Now it’s my time.”

SCHEDULE Friday, Sept. 1 vs. Ceres, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8 vs. Johansen, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15 at West, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22 vs. Oakdale, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29 at Kimball, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6 vs. Central Catholic, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13 at Lathrop, 7:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20 vs. Sierra, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27 at Weston Ranch, 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3 at Manteca, 7 p.m.

Espinosa was brought up to the varsity squad for the postseason last year, and he even got some snaps at wide out. “Del Campo was a great team with some big players, but I wasn’t scared,” Espinosa said. “I was just playing the game I love, and that’s how I treat it.” Herrera loves the moxie as well as his fearlessness. Like Weaver, Espinosa has big-play ability as a threat on the run and with the deep pass. “He’s starving right now,” Herrera said. “Absolutely starving. He’s a Friday night lights kind of player.” BALANCED ATTACK: Although Weaver certainly had his moments in East Union’s pistol Wing-T a year ago, the offense isn’t designed to showcase a single player. The Lancers will again rely on its wide array of skill athletes, feeding the hot hand whenever the situation warrants. Isaiah Sholund returns as the leading rusher (700 yards, five TDs), and Pilkay (208 yards, two TDs) has a nice rapport with Espinosa, a former youth football teammate from their days with the Manteca Cowboys. Touches will also go to Mason James, Alex Kukor, Levi Huffman, Andrew Mount and Alex Alexander out of the backfield. Fleet-footed Lathrop transfer Raylan Carter and Tony Martinez are dangerous from the wings, and 6-2, 225-pound Marquise Higgins has bigtime potential at tight end. “(Offensive coordinator Jason) Stock always said he likes that New England style where there is not one super star,” Pilkay said. “If everybody does their

job we’ll win games.” GETTING DEFENSIVE: While Herrera likes the progress of the offense, his defense has some catching up to do. Seven of the new starters are juniors. “I just nitpick everything on defense,” said Herrera, who calls the plays on that side of scrimmage. “I’m probably overcritical. I’ve been working these guys hard and they know my expectations. We have a ton of work to do.” The 3-4 defense is anchored by a physical front seven. The Lancers will have an entirely different starting linebacking corps from last year but there is also depth at the position. Alexander leads the charge from inside linebacker, and Herrera is impressed with Huffman on the outside. The secondary is the most unproven group but got to test itself with a busy 7-on-7 schedule over the summer. SETTING THE TONE: The Lancers have another golden opportunity for a 3-0 start after doing so the previous two seasons. Their three nonleague opponents — Ceres, Johansen and West — combined for five wins in 2016, and East Union blew them all out by an average of 40 points. Another perfect nonleague run would give the Lancers half of the wins needed for a likely postseason berth. East Union gets to start the season with two straight home games. The Lancers will need all the momentum they can get with reigning CIF State Division III champion Oakdale visiting on Sept. 22 for the league opener. “I’m happy about our schedule,” Herrera said. “I like getting to play Oakdale early, but we have to take care of business first. The first step is winning the first part of the season, because when we get into league it will be a straight up slobber-knocker. “When it comes to the upper-tier teams, we’ve had some difficulty beating them. Hopefully we can knock off at least one of them or at least close the gap.”

GO LANCERS! Best of luck for a great 2017 season!

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Football Preview

The Bulletin-Thursday, August 24, 2017



HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Manteca quarterback Gino Campiotti, foreground, is joined by two-way standouts tight end/safety Kyle Rachels, from left, lineman Justin Kakala, lineman Kyle Reis and fullback/linebacker Ferrin Manuleleua.

Head coach: Eric Reis (16th year, 133-39-2) Staff: Rick James (defensive coordinator/LB), Mark Varnum (offensive coordinator), Dan Eavenson (OL), Ken Menasco (DL), Bobby Fryer (DB), Beau Fryer (DB), Jerry Walser (TE), Jason Dukes (WR/IT), T.J. Galdos (WR).

GOING THE DISTANCE? It’s state title or bust for experienced, talent-laden Buffs B y J O N AMAR JAC I N T O The Bu lletin

Kyle Reis has witnessed the highs and lows — mostly highs — of his father’s illustrious coaching career at Manteca High. A 1987 MHS alum, Eric Reis goes into his 16th season carrying a sterling 133-39-2 record backed by four SacJoaquin Section championships and two CIF State Northern California Bowl Game appearances. He’s the winningest coach in school history and the first former Buffaloes player to come back and head the football program. Amazing, considering the school’s history. The football team’s rich tradition means a lot to both father and son, and this would be the perfect season for them to experience what the school never has before. For all of the team’s success over the years, there is one achievement that remains unchecked — a state title. “My whole life has been building up to this season,” the younger Reis said, now a senior and starting left tackle and defensive end. “Going from the Jr. Buffs (youth organization) to here, this was all part of the master plan and it’s nice to see things start to pan out. I don’t want to lose my last game as a senior. I can’t consider this season a success unless that happens. That would be a dream come true.” Kyle is one of four third-year starters for Manteca, which certainly has the look of a contender at the state level with 2016 Manteca Bulletin All-Area MVP Gino Campiotti back behind center and seven returners on defense. Cal-Hi Sports has taken

SCHEDULE Friday, Aug. 25 vs. Valley Christian, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1 at Christian Brothers (Sac City College), 7:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8 at Enochs (Gregori HS, Modesto), 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22 vs. Central Catholic, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29 vs. Lathrop, 7:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6 at Oakdale, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13 vs. Kimball, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20 at Weston Ranch, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27 at Sierra, 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3 vs. East Union, 7 p.m.

notice, placing them 34th in its top 50 preseason state rankings. “Every year presents a unique challenge,” coach Reis said. “Each year you want to leave an imprint and do something special, and this team is no different. “It’s a tight-knit group that has played together for a lot of years, even going back to the Jr. Buffaloes for a lot of the guys. There’s a real family bond.” Manteca had a chance to compete for a state crown last year after rolling past Placer 50-28 in the SJS Division IV championship game. The Buffaloes erased a 21-7 deficit before getting untracked. The comeback magic wore off in the CIF Division III-AA NorCal Bowl at Menlo-Atherton. They hadn’t seen a squad all season with the superior talent of Menlo-Atherton, which raced to a 49-21 victory The bitterness of their 2016 campaign doesn’t end there for the Buffs. They had one blemish in the regular season, a 32-14 loss at Central Catholic that led to a three-way share for the Valley Oak League crown with Oakdale. Manteca has yet to beat the

Raiders since Central joined the VOL in 2014. “I don’t have a second chance,” Campiotti said. “I just want to accomplish the best things we can possibly accomplish. Hopefully we can walk away with another section title, but our goal is a state title. “I think we have the ability and we return so many guys. We know what that Menlo game felt like and we don’t want to feel that way again.” Here are other things to watch for the Buffaloes this season: BIG, BAD BUFFS: If there is one thing that all of Manteca’s section championship teams (including Joe Miller’s 2001 squad) had in common it’s dominant line play. This is where the Buffaloes have no equal in the area. Kyle Reis (6-3, 280) and Justin Kakala (6-4, 270) will again create holes on the left side, and Mateo Fernandez (6-3, 285) returns at right tackle. Right guard Tyler Brintley (5-8, 225) was one of Manteca’s top linemen from its 9-1 sophomore team, and fellow junior Austin Kivilahti (6-3, 205) moves from tackle to center. The defensive line is just as stout, with Reis and Kakala on the ends and second-year starter Noe Saldivar (6-1, 285) at the nose. “We want to be able to bully everyone up front,” Kyle Reis said. “If we can do that we’re confident we can win the game.” LOCKED AND LOADED: Mark Varnum replaces longtime offensive coordinator Neil MacDannald and has full confidence in his quarterback. Campiotti set several single-season passing records for the program in 2016, but he will be without his top

targets in Jose Garcia and Joel Olmos. Manteca has a slew of suitable replacements at the receiver spots. A breakout campaign may be in order for wide receiver Presley Keltner, who erupted for 112 yards and two touchdowns in the NorCal Bowl. Matt Ender and tight end Kyle Rachels will be good-sized targets for Campiotti, while sophomore Jacob DeJesus and Beyer transfer Carter Williams are speed threats. “I know these guys will make a big play if I throw them the ball,” Campiotti said. “I feel confident in any situation presented to us.” RUNNING BACK CAROUSEL: So, who will Campiotti be handing the ball off to come zero week? Stay tuned. Kameron Beamon (1,300, 16 TDs) got the bulk of the carries last season, but he’s among the graduation casualties. Manteca has elevated sophomores Trabron Russell and Angel Garay to the varsity backfield. Standout free safety Vincent Ferro will get some opportunities carry the rock, while Chris Ortiz and Ferrin Manuleleua are splitting time at fullback. Michael Frisby is another one to keep an eye on. The freshman team’s leading rusher in 2014 suffered ACL injuries to each knee the past two years. “It will be interesting,” Eric Reis said. “There is a lot of competition there, so it’s just a matter of who is hot and who makes it happen when they’re called upon.” DAUNTING ‘D’: The Buffaloes are set on the defensive line and in the secondary. The hard-hitting Ferro led

area players with six interceptions last season, while fellow safety Rachels and cornerback Ender had four picks apiece. Manuleleua (116 tackles, 5.5 sacks) is the area’s best at his position but is the lone returning linebacker. He’ll be without all-league selections James Thomas and Devyn Gonzales. Kobe Shippley got some playing time next to Manuleleua. Rayshon Dozier (five sacks), who showed flashes with his opportunities last season, and junior Caden Ramsey will start at the outside spots. “The big thing for us, our outside linebackers,” Reis said. “We have pretty good depth at a lot of positions, but that’s an area where we’ll need some guys to step up.” A GAME OF THRONES: It won’t take long for Manteca to find out if it has the goods to compete at the state level. Up first is San Jose juggernaut Valley Christian, the No. 27th-ranked team on the Cal-Hi Sports Top 50 list. The Warriors reached the CIF Division II State Bowl Game and lost to Madison of San Diego 21-17, finishing 13-2. It might be the first game of the season, but it is sure to be discussed by the CIF’s Bowl committee down the road should either or both teams advance that far again. “Facing a good team this early is really good for us,” Manuleleua said. “In the playoffs we won’t get any surprises like we did last year in MenloAtherton. We didn’t play a powerhouse like them. When we saw that size and speed it was a whole different game. Now, we’ll get to see one of the best in the state.”


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Football Preview

The Bulletin-Thursday, August 24, 2017

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Sierra is looking to converted wide out Jacob Peterson, middle, to lead the new hybrid pistol/Wing-T offense at quarterback. Jordan Black, left and Isaiah Lee will have his back.


T’wolves look to continue winning ways under new head coach B y J O N AMAR JAC I N T O Th e Bu lletin

A banner hangs above the windows of the press box at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium, reminding all comers of the Sierra football team’s crowning achievement: “2015 CIF State Football Championships.” Among Chris Johnson’s 77 wins while serving as head coach for Ripon High came against that Division IV-A title team. The Indians rolled to a 34-20 victory in what ended up being Johnson’s last year at his alma mater. Now his job is to keep Sierra’s on the same track laid by former coach Jeff Harbison, the school’s winningest coach with an 88-49 record built over 12 seasons. “Sierra has done well and had success,” Johnson said. “There’s a positive energy about them. There will be bumps on the road but the guys are embracing (the changes). There are self-motivated and work hard, so I can’t complain.” Johnson has big task ahead of him as he implements his own philosophies to a team that features just four returning starters. “We have very few guys with any significant varsity experience,” Johnson said. “New coach, new system, new everything. When you talk about a new team, Sierra is it, all the way around.” If there is any familiarity it’s with the coaching staff. Sierra grad Ryan Teicheira is one of several assistants returning, and he’ll be the defensive coordinator after calling plays for Harbison’s offense in recent seasons. There is still some pent-up bitter-

ness left in the mouths of the few returners from last season. Seeded third for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs, the reigning champion Timberwolves were upset by Center 29-27 in the opening round. Sierra (6-5) lost three of its final four contests, including a 49-21 setback at Lathrop. Earlier in the season, the Timberwolves missed an opportunity to start 4-0, dropping a 28-25 heartbreaker to Oakdale in the first game of the Valley Oak League. The Mustangs went on to seize a threeway share of the VOL title as well as SJS Division III and CIF State Division III-A championships. “I’m motivated from our season ended,” starting guard and linebacker Jordan Black said. “The fire is still there from last year and I want to carry it over.” The Timberwolves will have to make do without many of their top players from 2016, namely quarterback Mark Vicente, strong safety Joseph Dunham (114 tackles), receiver/defensive back Jesse Babauta (540 yards, five TDs) and running back/safety Marcos Castillo (380 yards, four TDs; three interceptions). The junior class will fill many of those holes with a chip on its shoulder after going winless in league at the sophomore level. “The juniors have stepped up a lot and have made a huge improvement from the beginning of the offseason,” Black said. Here’s a closer look at Sierra’s upcoming season: HIM OF MANY FACES: Jacob Peterson played quarterback in the

HOUSE JOHNSON Head coach: Chris Johnson (1st year, 0-0 [77-54 overall]) Staff: Justin Silva (OL), Loren Johnson (OL), Mark Rangel (RB), Jay Muschott (WR), Mark Paule (TE), Ryan Teicheira (DL/defensive coordinator), Dominic Jimenez (ILB), Justin Muschott (OLB), Jesse Lopez (DB), Tony Jimenez (DB). lower levels but found a home at wide receiver (789 yards, five TDs) and safety (92 tackles) in his first varsity season. He was named to the AllVOL first team offense and defense. Peterson is back behind center for his senior campaign. His predecessor, Vicente, was the only other Timberwolf to earn all-league first-team honors after throwing for 2,450 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also led Sierra to its state title in 2015. “He’s just an athlete,” Johnson said of Peterson, an All-VOL outfielder in baseball last spring. “He’s one of those kids who would beat you at ping pong and go shoot par on a golf course. Things just seem to come natural to him. When the lights come on he just seems to step up.” HOLD THE SPREAD: Harbison’s spread offense led to much of Sierra’s success in the past decade. After evaluating the personnel in the offseason, Johnson decided to scrap the spread and stick to what he knows. He has installed the shotgun wing-T that helped establish his own successful run at Ripon. With only three returning starters, and one of

them moving to quarterback from receiver, this was the perfect time for a switch. “It’s taking a lot of work,” Peterson said. “We’re getting better every day with every rep.” Daemon Duran has the most varsity experience in the backfield and has the opportunity to break out. The ultra-quick Larenz Redd will get his touches, too. Johnson said he has received verbal offers from San Jose State and BYU. Seniors Angelo Talamantes and David Reyes are the starting receivers, and Romeo Sesma is the big target at tight end. D’WOLVES: The defense has also undergone a facelift, shifting from a nickel package to a 4-4. With Peterson focusing on offense, inside linebacker Black (54 tackles, 2.5 sacks) and safety Caden Worth (70 tackles) are the lone returners. Redd’s speed will be put to use in the defensive backfield, and senior Miguel Cervantes has emerged on the defensive line along with second-year junior Isaiah Lee. “We’re fast,” Black said. “We swarm to the ball. All 11 heads will be on it by the end of the play.” LAY IT ON THE LINE: Johnson said the offensive line remains a “work in progress” but is encouraged by what he has seen so far. It all starts with the 6-foot-3, 240pound Lee at center. He already has a full season of work at the position after starting there as a sophomore. “It was a great experience last year and I come into the season with more confidence,” he said. “There are a lot of changes and new players, but

we’re a faster line this year, I believe. I think we have something to prove.” Black returns to his spot at guard. Alex Rodriguez (6-0, 240) and Arshnik Cheema (6-0, 215) are two of the new starters. EARLY TEST: With the addition of Pacheco to the nonleague schedule, the Timberwolves should be tested early and often before opening VOL action with Kimball on Sept. 22. “We’re not looking any further than the first one,” Johnson said. Ah, yes. He is plenty familiar with the first opponent, as Ripon visits Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium on Friday looking to avenge a 22-19 loss. Also seeking revenge is Central Valley in Week 1. The Hawks were on the bitter end of Sierra’s late 28-26 comeback win, but they went on to put together their best season in school history and finished 9-2. “We’re trying our best to put it all together, because our first three weeks will be pretty tough,” Johnson said. “All three are great teams who have done some very good things. It’s a great way to start off coming into the league. SCHEDULE Friday, Aug. 25 vs. Ripon, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1 at Central Valley (Ceres HS), 7 p.m. Friday, Sept 8 at Pacheco, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22 vs. Kimball, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29 at Central Catholic, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6 vs. Lathrop, 7:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13 at Oakdale, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20 at East Union, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27 vs. Manteca, 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3 vs. Weston Ranch, 7 p.m.

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Football Preview

The Bulletin-Thursday, August 24, 2017



With few returning players, Lathrop is looking to lineman Luis Rivas, from left, quarterback Keonne Linnell, lineman Jesus Bucio, running back/safety Michael Ramos and linebacker Ayinde Dukes for leadership.

LATHROP’S LAST STAND IN VOL Spartans want to leave mark before leaving for WAC B y J ON AMAR JAC I NT O Th e Bu lletin

LATHROP — Lathrop is taking its move out of the Valley Oak League personally. Earlier this year, the Sac-Joaquin Section voted to send Spartans athletics to the Western Athletic Conference, where they should be more competitive against schools with similar enrollment figures. The next realignment cycle will run from 2018-2022. “It kind of sucks,” third-year starting running back and safety Michael Ramos said. “They’re pretty much looking down on us, that’s how I feel. Like we’re not good enough for this league. “My little brother (Isaac, a freshman) will still be here so I’ll be watching him play, but it’s not going to be the same watching him play all these other guys.” The football team has proven it can hang in the well-regarded VOL since third-year head coach Joe Pirillo took over. He led the Spartans to their first postseason appearance in program history in 2015, earning the No. 1 seed in the SJS Division IV bracket before getting upset by Los Banos. Lathrop failed to make it back to the playoffs a season ago, going 4-6. The Spartans did go away with a highlight performance, toppling postseason qualifier and then-reigning CIF State Division IV-A champion Sierra 49-21 in Week 9. Pirillo, a 2004 Manteca High grad, will miss the intensity of the intradistrict rivalries but also sees an opportunity to further build on Lathrop’s recent success in the WAC, where it will join Beyer, Ceres, Grace Davis, Johansen, Los Banos, Mountain House and Pacheco. “It’s a bittersweet kind of thing,”

Pirillo said. “The VOL is all we’ve known, but it’s sweet because the competition will be a little bit more at our level. Lathrop has taken lumps and bruises for many years in the VOL, but in the last couple we’ve come along. We’ll be taking that knowledge and experience in another league and it will really help us.” The VOL is challenging enough, and it’s amplified for this year’s group of Spartans that is replacing nine starters on defense and lacks depth of the line. “It’s a lot of motivation,” returning senior quarterback Keonnee Linnell said. “We have a lot to prove now.” Here’s a deeper look into the 2017 season for the Spartans: TIP OF THE SPEAR: The 2016 season was a learning experience for Linnell, who passed for 1,088 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. “I think I’ve matured,” he said. “I’ve learned to accept mistakes and just move on. The best thing you can do as a quarterback is not dwell on the mistakes.” He and Ramos bring valuable experience to an offense that lacks it in other spots. Anyone who recorded a catch last season was a senior. Mattox Harrell and Justin Manuel emerged as the team’s top pass catchers in the offseason. The 5-foot-6, 155-pound Ramos is again the home run threat out of the backfield, but he can bounce off tacklers and displays good balance. He rushed for 1,015 yards (7.6 per carry) and six touchdowns as a junior. Complementing him will be the rugged Mariano Rocha, a transfer from Tracy. THE REPLACAEMENTS: Inside linebacker Ayinde Dukes and Ramos (safety) are the lone returns

on defense. Dukes was the fourth leading tackler with 47. Lathrop lost some impressive athletes on this side of scrimmage, including inside linebacker Idowu Olaleye (105 tackles), outside linebacker Tremayne Tuipuloto-Willis Jr. (57 tackles, 10 sacks) and free safety R.J. Tisdell (56 tackles). “We lost a lot of dudes, but I trust the guys on our team to make the plays,” Dukes said. “If they do their job and we execute we can’t lose.” Pirillo likes the junior talent coming up to fill those roles. He believes Manuel is a “special talent” at safety, while Rocha replaces Olaleye at inside linebacker. Antonio Marquez is another player to look out for in the defensive backfield, and Stanley Becerra gives the Spartans speed on the edge. “The newcomers are stepping up,” Pirillo said. “We’ll still have a defense that swarms to the ball. If you’re watching film, all 11 guys are going to be in that frame.” THIN LINE: Conditioning will be crucial for Lathrop’s nine linemen. Seniors Jacob Eijansantos (6-2, 290), Luis Rivas (6-1, 200) and Jesus Bucio (5-9, 200) are all two-way starters. “Injuries happen and we will have to play through it,” Rivas said. “Playing both sides which is a big task but I’m up for the challenge.” Sophomores Kevin Barrera and Valen Phothipanya have been brought up to the varsity to bolster line. “There are a lot of people who have stepped up on both sides of the line,” Bucio said. “Even though we have small numbers and are relatively small compared to other schools we are just working our hardest and putting in 100 percent.”

HOUSE PIRILLO Head coach: Joe Pirillo (3rd year, 10-11) Staff: Ross Tisdell (defensive coordinator), Jon Estante (special teams), Bret Casey (RB/ DB), Marcus Johnwell (OL/DL), Shawn Holmes (OL/DL), Torijean Saffold (LB), Daniel Sanchez (WR), Amil Ortega (player personnel). BUYING IN: It hasn’t taken long for Pirillo to establish his philosophies in the program. While he believes the Spartans have individuals with star quality, it’s their team-first approach that has had them ready to compete since Day 1 of the offseason. “It’s really coming together,” he said. “They understand they have to play as a team in order to win games. There are no individuals on this team. They’re humble, taking everything in and being very coachable. When you have an attitude like that you can win anything.” There was no shortage of senior leadership last year, but with few returners, the well-chiseled Dukes has taken on that role and is hopeful his work ethic has rubbed off on the rest of the program. “This whole offseason I was working,” he said. “I woke up at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning every day because all I had was football on my mind. I’m ready for the season. All the hard work that I put in has to come out on the football field.” ROAD WARS TO COME: The Spartans will have to pull out some big wins away from familiar Bennie Gatto Field and their home crowd to make a push for the postseason. They’ll first look exact revenge

SCHEDULE Friday, Aug. 25 vs. West, 7:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1 at Hilmar, 7:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15 at Franklin (Cosumnes Oak HS, Elk Grove), 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22 vs. Weston Ranch, 7:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29 at Manteca, 7:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6 at Sierra, 7:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13 vs. East Union, 7:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20 vs. Central Catholic, 7:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27 at Oakdale, 7:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3 vs. Kimball, 7:15 p.m.

against Trans-Valley League champion Hilmar and Franklin (Elk Grove) from the talent-laden Delta League. Last year, Lathrop lost to both teams by a total of eight points, and it’s what ultimately kept them from advancing to the playoffs. “There’s always that one loss that everyone thought we should have won, and unfortunately there were a couple like that,” Linnell said. “It hurts just talking about it. We’re looking to change that this year.” In league, Lathrop is on the road against Manteca and Oakdale, two of the three defending tri-champions, as well as Sierra. “They know how tough our nonleague schedule is,” Pirillo said. “It was built that way because we thought we’d have the kids to make something of it. Going 1-2 in nonleague last season was rough, but the kids gained valuable experience going into league. “It’s going to help us right away. We start off league with Weston Ranch for our homecoming, and our tough nonleague puts us in good position to do some things and make some noise.”

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Football Preview

The Bulletin-Thursday, August 24, 2017


Wide receiver/linebacker A.J. Brown, middle, is providing leadership for Weston Ranch’s junior-heavy team that includes quarterback Amier Bowen, left, and lineman Manuel Torres.


Weston Ranch thirsty to end postseason drought B y J ON AMAR JAC I NT O Th e Bu lletin

STOCKTON — Weston Ranch had its best collection of talent in years, but the 2016 season only serves as a lesson for the current and future Cougars to come. Fifth-year head coach Seth Davis said that if a turnaround is to happen for this team, it starts with a change in attitude. “Seeing that stuff in the past, these guys know that doing it their way wasn’t what was completely best for the team,” Davis said. “They’ve completely bought in. The egos are gone. I’ve never been around a more humble group of guys. You can have all the talent, but you don’t win with just talent. We finally have guys buying in. Hopefully that pushes us over the edge.” They had supreme confidence entering the Valley Oak League portion of their schedule after three easy wins, including a 20-0 blanking of South Stockton rival Edison backed by a 71-14 thrashing of Bear Creek. In one moment Weston Ranch felt unstoppable. In the next, the Cougars could not stop the bleeding. Their confidence crumbled after first tasting defeat. Weston Ranch’s effort early on was admirable, but Central Catholic rolled to a 45-7 win in the VOL opener. It was the first of five straight losses during the frustrating 4-6 campaign. The Cougars were then mauled by Manteca 49-0 in a game that had chippy moments and led to ejections. Two weeks later, Lathrop stormed past them 32-6 on a rainy night in the Battle of I-5. Then another heartbreaker against Week-10 rival Sierra, which prevailed 16-9 to qualify for the postseason. A playoff berth was on the line for

both teams in the 2015 regular-season finale, and Sierra erased a 14-point halftime deficit for a 34-27 victory. The Timberwolves went on to mount an unexpected run to the CIF State Division IV-A championship. Senior receiver/linebacker A.J. Brown is determined not to have another season end on Week 10. He wants to be part of the start of something special. “I saw a lot of heads down and a lot of sad faces,” Brown said. “I don’t want that to happen in my senior year, so I’m doing what I can to push the team trying to get the team to keep pushing and try to stop the tradition of losing and start something new.” Weston Ranch has just one postseason appearance, and that was 12 years ago. It remains the only winning season in Cougars history. They’ve had two 5-5 finishes (2007, 2015) since, and their playoff drought is the longest among area schools. “This year is way different,” junior lineman Manuel Torres said. “Everybody has bought in and came to our summer workouts consistently. Here are others things to watch for during the Cougars’ 2017 season: THROWIN’ BOWEN 2.0: Amier Bowen watched his uncle play at Weston Ranch about 10 years ago. He doesn’t remember much of it. He’s following in the footsteps of Josh Bowen, taking over as quarterback for the Cougars. Josh is far and away the most prolific passer in program history. In 2007, his senior season, he amassed 2,518 yards and 32 touchdowns against 15 interceptions. The two get together on weekends to train. “I always think that I gotta play like him,” Amier said. “That’s a lot on my shoulders. If I don’t compete to his standards it will be a disappointment.”

The soft-spoken junior has earned the trust of his coaches, who view him as a lead-by-example type. Bowen displayed some of his potential during camps held by Modesto Junior College and UC Davis. “Amier’s pretty talented,” Davis said. “He has a very good arm, throws the ball well and sees the field pretty good. We’re excited about him.”

HOUSE DAVIS Head coach: Seth Davis (5th year, 15-25). Staff: Dustin Allen (offensive coordinator), Matt O’Donnell (OL), Nick Ortiz (LB/special teams), George Likong (DL), Jared Acaya (RB/DB).

any defense would, but in their base BACK TO THE SPREAD: Josh formation there will be plenty of faith Bowen flourished in spread forma- placed in the defensive backfield. tions, and his nephew will have the Davis likes the lock-down ability of “I got to start some games last year, opportunity to do the same as Weston cornerbacks Nelson and Williams. Pitts was productive at the sophomore just to see what I could do,” Torres Ranch transitions from a West Coast level splitting time at free safety and said. “I felt that I was able to compete Offense. at the level as a sophomore. “We’ll be able to make use of corner. “From what Licensed the Department of we’ve seen of them in Center/nose guard Jesus Guerro some of our athleticism,” Davis by said. ourCRMLA passing (scrimmages and tourna- (6-0, 260), Chandler Brock (6-3, 270) “We’ll match up a littleOversight bit betterunder in the ments), they are some of the better and Javier Aros (6-0, 290) are the top our league.” Cori Floyd may benefit the most dudes we’ve had at the corner posi- seniors of the group. Junior Alejandro as defenses are forced to defend four tions,” Davis said. “They’re physical, Velasquez (5-11, 240) is also going to receivers. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound they have great feet and a nose for the be a factor. running back scampered for 512 yards ball. They’ll allow us to get more guys “We have a lot of veteran guys (8.7 per carry) and four touchdowns in the box.” there,” Davis said. “We’re not ManWeston Ranch’s defense was teca or Oakdale, but we’ll be able to in seven games played. Carries were evenly split between him and two senior-heavy a year ago, but both compete with what we have up front.” seniors, Bryant Bowen and James Brown and Floyd are linebackers with Walker, but he’s expected to be more varsity experience. Davis has high BATTLE OF I-5: Weston Ranch hopes for Nikko Ramos, a 6-foot, of a focal point this year. gets to kick off the VOL season FOR YOUR “I think we an do some damage in 205-pound junior middle linebacker. WE’RE againstHERE Lathrop onceALL again after get“He has such a high football IQ,” the passing game, but running the ball MORTGAGE NEEDS ting paired with Central Catholic for will be our strongest point this year,” Davis said of Ramos. “In the past our Week 4 the past two seasons. Amier Bowen said. “Cori hits the hole football IQ wasn’t quite there, but This will be the last time the Battle now we have guys like Nikko who580 North hard and is explosive.” Wilma D of I-5 rivals willAve., tangleSuite as league Brown was the Cougars’ third-lead- are football smart and academically Ripon, CA 95366 ing receiver last year. Junior Andrew smart. That should help us in the long opponents; the Spartans are moving toOffice: the Western Athletic Conference in (209) 599-8550 Williams gives Bowen a big target run.” 2018. A repeat of their 3-0 start last at 6-2, 185. Fletcher Pitts and Julius Fax: (209) 599-0033 year is very doable, and the last time COLOSSAL COUGARS: The Nelson were also among the top wide the Cougars began a season undeouts on the 2-7-1 sophomore squad Cougars have little varsity experience feated through four games was when at most other positions, but that is not last year. NMLS #1850 they made the playoffs in 2005. the case on the line. Weston Ranch leads the series 5-3 Torres comes out of camp as the BEYOND THE WALL: Weston Ranch is also going to a new look on best of the bunch after getting exten- but have dropped the last three. This defense, switching from a 3-4 front sive minutes late last season as a soph- year’s Battle of I-5 will take place on omore. The 6-2, 280-pounder plays Lathrop’s homecoming night Sept. to 6-2. The Cougars will remain flexible as offensive guard and defensive tackle. 22.

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SCHEDULE Friday, Aug. 25 vs. Ceres, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1 at Edison, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8 vs. Bear Creek, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22 at Lathrop, 7:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29 vs. Oakdale, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6 vs. Kimball, 7:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13 at Central Catholic, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20 vs. Manteca, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27 vs. East Union, 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3 at Sierra, 7 p.m.

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Football Preview

DAY . 25 m.

The Bulletin-Thursday, August 24, 2017

FRIDAY AUG. 25 7 p.m.


FRIDAY SEPT. 8 7 p.m.

SATURDAY SEPT. 16 1 p.m.

FRIDAY SEPT. 29 7 p.m.

FRIDAY OCT. 13 7 p.m.

@ Vacaville Christian

@ Sierra Ridge

@ Amador High

@ Portola High

@ Delta High

@ Big Valley Christian


San Andreas

Sutter Creek





HEAD COACH: Jeff Tilton (Humboldt State University, San Joaquin Delta College, Manteca High School) ASSISTANT COACHES: Tony Dumlao (San Joaquin Delta College, Tracy High School); John Griggs (Manteca High School)


1 p.m. 1 p.m.

FRIDAY FRIDAY FRIDAY SEPT. 8 S EPT SEPT7..p.m. 88 p.m. 77p.m.


1 p.m. 1 p.m.

7 p.m.7 p.m.

@ Vacaville Christian

@ Sierra Ridge

@ Amador @High

@ Portola High @

@ Delta High

@ Big Valley Christian


San Andreas

Sutter Creek





@ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ ville Sierra Ridge Amador Portola Delta Big V RidgeJeff Tilton (Humboldt Amador Portola Delta HEAD COACH: State University, San Joaquin Delta College, Manteca High School) stian Sierra High High High Chri


HEAD COACH: Jeff Tilton (Humboldt State University, San Joaquin Delta College, Manteca High School)




Sutter Creek



ASSISTANT COACHES: Tony DumlaoDumlao (San Joaquin Delta College, Tracy HighDelta School); John Griggs (Manteca High School) ASSISTANT COACHES: Tony (San Joaquin College, Tracy High School); San Andreas Sutter Creek Portola John Griggs (Chico State University, San Joaquin Delta College, Manteca HighClarksburg School)

San Andreas



Football Preview

The Bulletin-Thursday, August 24, 2017

FATHER OF DRAGONS Manteca alum Jeff Tilton leads Delta Charter’s inaugural season B y J A SON C A M P B E L L T he B u l l e t i n


Longtime educator and Manteca High graduate Jeff Tilton gets his defense organized during Delta Charter’s practice at Laird Park in Grayson. The Dragons will play six games in their first-ever season.

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Jeff Tilton isn’t worried about making sure that his players at Delta Charter High School are ready for the school’s inaugural football season. While the Dragons may lack the numbers of some of the other schools that they are playing this year, including CIF Division 6-AA State runner-up Amador, Tilton believes that his team will be ready come Friday night when many of his players will compete in a high school football game for the first time. Sophomore receiver Oloche Edache and junior lineman Noah Lintz are the Mantecans on the team. “It looks right now like we’re going to suit up 18 kids when we play Vacaville Christian on Friday, and while you can look at having that many kids on a team as a challenge I think you can also look at it as a strength,” said Tilton, a 1979 graduate of Manteca High where he coached from 19821990. “This way we know that everybody is focused on what it is that they’re supposed to do — their assignments, and the assignments of everybody else — and it removes some of that margin for error. “I’m excited for them, and the chance to lay the groundwork for a new program.” First opened in 2001 under the banner of the New Jerusalem School District, Delta Charter made the decision back in March to field a varsity football team and expand the athletic offerings for the roughly 300 students who attend the rural campus. But with a roster that includes kids from as far away as Discovery Bay and Patterson, Tilton has had his hands full with working out the logistics of not

being at around $800 per player and presented the unique challenge of figuring out what size equipment to buy for a smaller team that will have to be reused in coming seasons. And then there was the small matter of finding teams that would be willing to play against a small newcomer that is currently not part of any league, which Tilton said was slightly easier than he expected, but will require the team to travel to places like Portola in order to round out the modest six-game schedule. But it was their performance on the field at the Central California Athletic Alliance — which includes Brookside Christian in Stockton and Millennium in Tracy — that proved that the team was in fact prepared despite all of the challenges that went into the construction of the foundation of a new program. According to Tilton, the CCAA had told him that the league would monitor Delta Charter this year to see how they did and make an evaluation on whether they would be allowed to join next season, a sort of trial period based off of not only performance, but the integrity and structure of the program. After that one outing, he said, he was informed that they would welcomed with open arms. “I’m happy for the kids because they showed that they carried themselves very well,” Tilton said. “When they knocked somebody down, they helped them back up and that sent a message to the athletic directors. “I understand why they were hesitant, but I think our kids and our fans showed what we’re all about, and that’s a great feeling to be told that you’re accepted.”

SCHEDULE Friday, Aug. 25 at Vacaville Christian, 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2 at Sierra Ridge, 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8 at Amador, 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16 at Portola, 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29 at Delta, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13 at Big Valley Christian, 7 p.m.

only launching a completely new program, but also bringing unity to a team of players that come from throughout San Joaquin, Contra Costa and Stanislaus Counties. Because of limited resources at the campus, situated on Durham Ferry Road on the outskirts of both Manteca and Tracy, the squad has to travel by bus to and from nearby Laird Park in Grayson for practice. That experience alone, Tilton said, has helped build the kind of camaraderie typically characteristic for teams that have spent years playing together. “We have a couple of kids that have played youth football before, but this is a new experience for most of them,” he said. “Last week when we had our scrimmage it was the first time that a lot of these kids hit somebody else, or got hit themselves. And I would say that they responded very well. We’re a close-knit group and that shows in the way the guys interact on the field, and despite facing adversity, these guys did what they had to do.” Building a program from scratch isn’t an easy undertaking. As part of a district with limited means — all of the team’s games this year will be played on the road, for example, because the school has no football stadium — the start-up costs for the program ended up

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Top 20: Kakala, Buffs highlight returning talent By J ON AMAR JAC I NTO Th e Bu lletin

Think linemen aren’t athletes? Manteca High senior Kyle Reis will argue otherwise. Sure, he might be biased being a lineman himself., but if you ask him who the best player around is he’ll point to the man-child lining up to his right on the offensive line — Justin Kakala. “Justin is one of the most athletic specimens the Valley Oak League has seen in a while,” Reis said. We agree. Kakala tops our list of the area’s best returning football players for the 2017 season. With state-title aspirations and a wealth of experience, Manteca makes up nearly half of the players listed. Among the Buffaloes making the cut are three linemen, but let’s start with the most touted one. 1. JUSTIN KAKALA, MANTECA LG/DE: Kakala is a Pac-12 talent with an Ivy League mind. The impressive 6-foot-5, 280-pound lineman de-commited from Cal over the summer in favor of Harvard, showing that he has the brain to go with the brawn. “I want to be a surgeon, so going to Harvard will help me in the long run,” Kakala said. Manteca’s stable of running backs will have plenty of opportunities to go on long runs with the likes of Kakala paving the way, and he’ll continue to wreak havoc on the defensive end where he piled up 56 tackles (10 for losses) and 11 tackles for the Valley Oak League and Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV champion Buffaloes. His large frame is also a factor on special teams, where he blocked two punts and a field goal attempt. On one of those blocked punts, Kakala scooped up the loose ball and returned it for a touchdown in a playoff win over Los Banos. 2. GINO CAMPIOTTI, MANTECA QB/K: The Manteca Bulletin’s reigning All-Area MVP and VOL Offensive Player of the Year drew little attention from college scouts after a record-setting junior campaign. He totaled 139 completions, 231 pass attempts and 2,101 passing yards, now single-season records at Manteca, and his 24 touchdowns are just two shy of another. Campiotti also rushed for 402 yards and eight touchdowns, converted 58 of 63 point-after kicks and 3 of 4 field goal attempts. It wasn’t until the spring that he began generating interest. He was exposed to Division I talent while competing for TMP Elite’s passing team. Although he has no offers, schools from the Big Sky and Mountain West Conference along with the Ivy League are keeping a close eye on him. He has worked had to get noticed, putting in time in the weight room six days a week and running hills. “My offseason was football, football, football, football — ever since last football season ended,” Campiotti said. Well, not all football. Campiotti was also key member of Manteca’s basketball and baseball teams, helping both reach the SJS semifinals — a testament to his well-rounded athletic skill set. 3. FERRIN MANULELEUA, MANTECA FB/ILB: Here’s another Buffalo that Mountain West and Big Sky schools are paying attention to. Manteca will lean on the the 6-foot-0, 220-pound inside linebacker in the 3-4 defense. Last season, he accumulated 116 tackles, 19 for losses, 5.5 sacks and forced two fumbles while playing alongside fellow All-VOL selections James Thomas and Devyn Gonzales. The defense has its three linemen back and is loaded in the defensive backfield, but questions remain with the linebacking corps because Manuleleua is the lone returning starter there. He welcomes any challenge that comes his way. “There is always a chip on our shoulder,” Manuleleleua said. “If you don’t play with one you don’t get better. I want us to do something the school has never done before.” 4. MICHAEL RAMOS, LATHROP RB/S: Ramos may not be as heralded as some others ranked this high, but he was quietly one of the area’s most productive players of 2016 despite sharing the load with Tremayne Tuipuloto Willis Jr. (605 yards, six TDs). He’s the area’s top returning rusher after piling up 1,015 yards (7.6 per carry) and six touchdowns. Ramos saved his best performances for last. He dashed his way to 178 yards and two scores in a 49-21 blowout of Sierra, then exploded for a career-high 204 yards in the Spartans’ Week 10 win over Kimball. Ramos didn’t have 20 or more carries in a game until the final two of the season. Ramos had a scare going into his third varsity season. He fractured an ankle over the summer, which of course limited him in offseason workouts. The Spartans will need him at full

SCHEDULE ZERO WEEK, Aug. 25 Valley Christian at Manteca. Ripon at Sierra West at Lathrop Ceres at Weston Ranch, Ripon Christian at Millennium WEEK 1, Sept. 1 Ceres at East Union Manteca at Christian Brothers Sierra at Central Valley Lathrop at Hilmar Weston Ranch at Edison Galt at Ripon Ripon Christian at Stone Ridge Christian WEEK 2, Sept. 8 Johansen at East Union Manteca at Enochs Sierra at Pacheco Bear Creek at Weston Ranch Sonora at Ripon, 7:30 p.m. Summerville at Ripon Christian WEEK 3, Sept. 15 East Union at West Lathrop at Franklin. Grace Davis at Ripon

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Manteca linebacker Ferrin Manuleleua, clockwise from top left, lineman Kyle Reis, lineman Justin Kakala, quarterback Gino Campiotti and tight end/safety Kyle Rachels are among the area’s top returning players for 2017.

MANTECA BULLETIN PRESEASON ALL-AREA TEAM OFFENSE QB — Gino Campiotti, Manteca, Sr. RB — Michael Ramos, Lathrop, Sr. RB — Cori Floyd, Weston Ranch, Sr. C — Isaiah Lee, Sierra, Jr. OL — Kyle Reis, Manteca, Sr. OL — Jaysen Reindel, East Union, Sr. OL — Mateo Fernandez, Manteca, Sr. OL — Manuel Torres, Weston Ranch, Jr. TE — Kyle Rachels, Manteca, Sr. WR — Presley Keltner, Manteca, Sr. WR — Matthew Pilkay, East Union, Sr.

strength, as he is expected to start both ways again. He racked up 43 tackles while playing safety last year. 5. KYLE REIS, MANTECA LT/ DE: The son of head coach Eric Reis was one of the four sophomores — Campiotti, Kakala and Manuleleua being the others — brought up to the varsity two years ago. Kyle Reis (6-3, 280), and Kakala are a formidable pair on the left side of the offensive line, where 2013 Manteca grads Isaac McClain and Billy Sharmoug once dominated. McClain and Sharmoug now play for New Mexico State. And there isn’t a more imposing defensive line in the area with Reis and Kakala at the ends and junior Noe Saldivar (6-0, 291) eating up the space between them. Reis recorded 41 tackles his junior year. Reis said he has received a verbal offer from Southern Oregon, where former multi-sport Buffalo standout Marcus Montano is the placekicker, but he’s not rushing to make a commitment. Cal Poly and Air Force are high on his wish list. Cal Poly is where his played collegiately. 6. KYLE RACHELS, MANTECA TE/FS/P: Another Kyle from Manteca cracks the top 10, and this one will rarely leave the field. Rachels had 72 tackles and four picks en route to earning a spot on the All-VOL first team. At 6-3, 185 pounds, Rachels can be a tough cover for opposing linebackers and defensive backs because of his length and athletic ability. Coach Reis likes how Rachels has “matured” at tight end after quarterbacking lower-level teams in his first two years of high school. He’ll factor more into the offense as a pass catcher after finishing with 10 receptions and 94 yards. Defenses have to account for his throwing ability on trick plays and special teams since he will again handle punting duties. Rachels also completed 6 of 7 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns last season. 7. CORI FLOYD, WESTON RANCH RB/LB: After splitting carries with three seniors last year, Floyd is ready to stand out as the featured runner out of the Weston Ranch backfield. At 5-10, 180 pounds, Floyd possesses both power and breakaway ability. He ended up as the Cougars’ leading rushing last season with 512 yards (8.7 per carry) and four touchdowns with Bryant Bowen (387 yards, two TDs), James Walker (470 yards, seven TDs) and fullback Andrew Farley (126 yards, two TDs) also getting touches. Weston Ranch is going to a spread offense, which could lead to wider lanes for Floyd to run through. A dangerous passing game spearheaded by junior QB Amier Bowen could also open things up for Floyd. He’ll also get some playing time on defense at linebacker.

DEFENSE DL — Justin Kakala, Manteca, Sr. DL — Willem Hoekstra, Ripon Christian, Sr. DL — Elias Andrews, East Union, Sr. DL — Noe Saldivar, Manteca, Jr. LB — Ferrin Manuleleua, Manteca, Sr. LB — Ayinde Dukes, Lathrop, Sr. LB — Dylan Sexton, Ripon, Sr. DB — Vincent Ferro, Manteca, Sr. DB — Julius Nelson, Weston Ranch, Jr. DB — Matthew Ender, Manteca, Sr. DB — Justin Manuel, Lathrop, Jr.

8. JAYSEN REINDEL, EAST UNION LT/DE: A class act off the field, Reindel is as fierce as they come on it. He doesn’t just stick out in the East Union huddle because of his size (6-2, 265), as he is an unquestioned leader on the team. He made the All-VOL second-team offense and chipped in 20 tackles and a sack last season. Reindel is also an accomplished wrestler having won VOL championships at the 215- and 285-pound divisions the past two years. He wound up eighth at the SJS Masters Tournament and should again contend for a spot in the state tourney this winter. 9. WILLEM HOEKSTRA, RIPON CHRISTIAN, FB/QB/DL: A third-year starter for the Knights, there may not be a more versatile athlete in the area at his size (6-2, 215). Hoekstra has played plenty of snaps at quarterback since his freshman year, but the hope is for him to focus more at fullback and defensive line. Mark Ozenbaugh has been named the starting QB, allowing Ripon Christian to use Hoekstra, who has the speed and hands to also be a factor as a pass catcher, as a multi-tool weapon on both sides of scrimmage. Hoekstra tallied 867 all-purpose yards (455 rushing, 370 passing, 42 receiving) last year, 84 tackles and a team-high seven sacks. 10. VINCENT FERRO, MANTECA RB/SS: With the Buffaloes’ top rusher gone to graduation, the opportunity is there for Ferro to flourish as a two-way player. He didn’t play offense his junior season but broke out on the other side of scrimmage. The hard-hitting strong safety finished with 77 tackles and an area-high six interceptions. Ferro is expected to be part of Manteca’s running back committee. 11. MICHAEL WINTERS, RIPON RB/DB: Ripon plans to spread the wealth much more this season. Humboldt State signee Aaron Paschini was the focal point of the offense last year, and Winters split handoffs with then senior Ryan Wilson. Winters did flash some of his breakaway ability, leading Indians rushers with 528 yards (7.7 per carry) and five touchdowns. The 5-8, 155-pound speedster also wants to be more of a playmaker in the defensive backfield and special teams. 12. MICHAEL KAMPS, RIPON CHRISTIAN TB/DB: Kamps was heavily relied upon to keep the Knights offense moving in his sophomore season. He was the team’s leading rusher (745 yards, seven TDs) and secondleading receiver (183 yards, four TDs). After gaining speed and strength in the offseason, the 5-11, 175-pound Kamps is set up to have a big year with an improved offensive line and passing game. He’ll also play a big part on

defense, where he totaled 34 tackles and four interceptions. 13. MATTHEW ENDER, MANTECA WR/CB: Ender returns to the Buffaloes’ experienced defensive backfield at cornerback. He recorded 53 tackles and four picks. Offensively, he is one of many skillposition players who could have a bustout season after Manteca graduated its most productive receivers and running backs. Two of Ender’s six catches went for TDs in 2016, but he is sure to improve on those numbers as a starting wide out. 14. PRESLEY KELTNER, MANTECA WR: Don’t let his meager 2016 totals (eight catches, 183 yards, three TDs) fool you. The fleet-footed and sure-handed Keltner may end up being the best of the bunch in Manteca’s stable of talented receivers. He put together an out-of-nowhere postseason run capped by a 112-yard, two-touchdown effort in the NorCal Bowl Game at Menlo-Atherton. Keltner also had a 48-yard reception in the SJS Division IV finals. 15. JACOB PETERSON, SIERRA QB: An All-VOL first-team selection for both offense and defense, Peterson would be ranked higher had he not switch positions. He was the No. 1 target for former quarterback Mark Vicente last year, finishing with 789 yards and five touchdowns. He also collected 92 tackles as a safety on defense. The Timberwolves’ best all-around athlete has since moved to quarterback, where he’ll lead firstyear head coach Chris Johnson’s hybrid pistol/Wing-T offense. 16. ROLAND DAVIS, RIPON RB/OLB: Ripon coach Chris Musseman has high hopes for his backfield tandem, calling Davis “the perfect complement” to Winters. A sophomore last year, Davis was used sparingly on offense (12 rushes, 53 yards) to focus more on defense (67 tackles, INT), where he proved to be up to the task as a sophomore. 17. MATTHEW PILKAY, EAST UNION WR/CB: Pilkay takes over for Jake Harries as the No. 1 receiver and playmaking cornerback. Last year, he had 13 catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns while also getting reps in the defensive backfield, where the Lancers need experience. 18. MATEO FERNANDEZ, MANTECA RT: With Reis and Kakala anchoring the left side, the massive 6-3, 285-pound right tackle will hold it down on the other end. Fernandez was named to the All-VOL second team offense after doing his part in Manteca establishing its balanced attack. 19. DYLAN SEXTON, RIPON G/ MLB: Sexton captains the defense following a productive junior campaign in which he was the third leading tackler on the team with 80. Formerly a fullback, he moved to guard out of necessity and may be Ripon’s top offensive lineman despite his small stature (5-10, 180). 20. PATRICK SHOLUND, EAST UNION RB: Nicknamed “Bowling Ball,” the 5-5, 188-pound Sholund is the workhorse of East Union’s multithreat offense. He was the Lancers’ leading rusher in 2016 with 700 yards and five touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 27 yards.

WEEK 4, Sept. 22 Oakdale at East Union Central Catholic at Manteca Kimball at Sierra Weston Ranch at Lathrop Sutter at Ripon Ripon Christian at Orestimba WEEK 5, Sept. 29 East Union at Kimball Lathrop at Manteca Sierra at Central Catholic Oakdale at Weston Ranch Ripon Christian at Waterford WEEK 6, Oct. 6 Central Catholic at East Union Manteca at Oakdale Lathrop at Sierra Kimball at Weston Ranch Ripon at Mountain House Denair at Ripon Christian WEEK 7, Oct. 13 East Union at Lathrop Kimball at Manteca Sierra at Oakdale Weston Ranch at Central Catholic Modesto Christian at Ripon Gustine at Ripon Christian WEEK 8, Oct. 20 Sierra at East Union Manteca at Weston Ranch Central Catholic at Lathrop Escalon at Ripon Ripon Christian at Mariposa WEEK 9, Oct. 27 East Union at Weston Ranch Manteca at Sierra Lathrop at Oakdale Ripon at Hughson Le Grand at Ripon Christian WEEK 10, Nov. 3 East Union at Manteca Weston Ranch at Sierra Kimball at Lathrop Ripon at Hilmar Ripon Christian at Delhi

ABOUT THE COVER The saga in Westeros may be nearing its end, but the storylines involving the Seven Kingdoms of our realm remain unsettled. Let the “Game of the Thrones” begin. HBO’s hit series, based on George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novels, was the inspiration for our latest high school football preview section. The seven area schools in our coverage area — East Union, Lathrop, Manteca, Ripon, Ripon Christian, Sierra and Weston Ranch — have their own stories to tell, but all want to wear the crown. Manteca Bulletin photographer extraordinaire Hime Romero and paginator/ graphic designers Francisco Toledo and Jason Sandate deserve props for adding their artistic touches. Romero and Toldedo’s talents were combined in the cover page featuring longtime Manteca High’s Eric Reis, who sits on the Iron Throne as the area’s all-time winningest coach. Special thanks go to all of the coaches and players for providing us with needed information, cooperation and in some cases laughs. Without your help, we “know nothing.”


Football Preview

The Bulletin-Thursday, August 24, 2017

RIPON RAISING EXPECTATIONS Indians driven by Week 10, playoff defeats

Versatile seniors Dylan Sexton and Michael Winters, from left, return for Ripon along with promising second-year juniors Ryan Daggett and Roland Davis. HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin

B y J ON AMAR JAC I N T O The Bu lletin

RIPON — Ripon exceeded expectations in Chris Musseman’s first year as head coach. The Indians may now have a target on their back after finishing second in the Trans-Valley League and 6-5 overall, but they’ll have to replace their best talent from 2016 — namely wide receiver Aaron Paschini, now at Humboldt State, linebacker Bryce Kinsey, one of the state’s most prolific tacklers, and All-TVL Most Outstanding Defensive Back Luis Candido. Despite the graduation losses, they have more experience overall with the majority of starters returning on both sides of scrimmage. “There has been a lot of change in the program the last couple of years,” Musseman said. “We’ve lost a lot of good players, but the potential is there to have a pretty good season. Unfortunately, at Ripon, depth is always an issue.” Depth became an issue early last season. Ripon’s 69-7 loss at Sonora in Week 2 was painful in multiple ways. Six starters were injured in that game, including Paschini. He was back in action the following week, but the rest of them — mostly linemen — didn’t return until league play. Ripon started 2-3, losing to powerhouse programs entering the TVL schedule. A four-game winning streak followed, leading to what culminated into a Week-10 championship game with Hilmar. The Indians lost 21-7, then were trounced by eventual SacJoaquin Section Division V champion Capital Christian 56-7 in the opening round of the playoffs. “As a junior I always thought, ‘Hey, I have next year,’” senior running back/defensive back Michael Winters said. “Looking back at it, it sucked. It really motivated me this summer. I don’t want to feel that way again as a senior, so hopefully we can win a couple of games in the playoffs.” It won’t be easy to get back to the postseason. Sierra, Sonora and Sutter

SCHEDULE Friday, Aug. 25 at Sierra, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1 vs. Galt, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8 vs. Sonora, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15 vs. Grace Davis, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22 vs. Sutter, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6 at Mountain House, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13 vs. Modesto Christian, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20 vs. Escalon, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27 at Hughson, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3 at Hilmar, 7:30 p.m.

is again lined up for its brutal nonleague schedule. “Getting to play teams like Sonora and Sutter improves us,” Musseman said. “We see more speed, more size and more athleticism than we see for the rest of the year. The trick is getting out of it healthy.” And the TVL may be on the rise after several down years. Hilmar is the reigning champion, Escalon is bolstered by an undefeated sophomore squad and Modesto Christian is always a threat with its impressive athletes. Third-year varsity team Mountain House is a wild card but figures to be much improved after winning just one game in its first two seasons. “Last year, we just wanted to prove everybody wrong,” Winters said. “We had a new coach and we wanted to make Musseman proud. This year, we feel like we have a chip on our shoulders. We know everybody’s coming for us. Nothing is given, so we just have to work hard.” Here are other things to watch for this season for Ripon: BACK BEHIND CENTER: Nico Ilardi could have been Ripon’s varsity quarterback last year if he were older. The then-14-year-old freshman instead starred for the sophomore squad, while sophomore Ryan Daggett took the reins for the varsity and showed flashes as he developed a solid connection Paschini in the hybrid Wing-T/shotgun attack. The job was Daggett’s to lose this summer, and Musseman was impressed with his increased maturity and confidence. “He’s more comfortable in under-

standing what we need to get him to going to be the positive,” Musseman do and he’s more of a leader,” Mus- said. “We were so dependent on Passeman said. “He put in a lot of work chini last year, but now we have three and it showed. We had a very good or four kids we can throw to. Defenses sophomore quarterback pushing him are going to have to cover the whole and Ryan did a good job and won the field, and that’s good for Ryan. He spot. We’re really happy with him had a tendency to lock in on Paschini last year, but now he’s comfortable right now.” Daggett completed 53.5 percent of throwing to multiple targets.” DYLAN DOES IT ALL: Fivehis passes in his rookie season for 1,095 yards and 13 touchdowns (11 to foot-10, 180-pound two-way starter Paschini) against seven interceptions. Dylan Sexton (80 tackles) is taking “I’ll be able to run more this year, on a larger role for the Indians. He be more of a dual threat,” Daggett and junior Gregory Clark anchor the said. “I also went to some camps and defense as inside linebackers as they learned a lot of the little things like look to fill the massive void left by Kinsey. reading defenses.” The team captain’s value is in WINTER(S) IS COMING: Winters may be due for a breakout cam- his versatility and unselfishness. He paign. Last year, he took a backseat to started 2016 at fullback but insisted to Paschini and split carries with senior his coaches that he shift to guard after running back Ryan Wilson after being injuries decimated the O-line early in the season. Sexton will begin this ‘the man’ in the lower levels. Winters showed some of his game- season back at guard. “There is not a position on the footbreaking ability but with limited touches, finishing with 528 rushing ball field he would not be good at,” yards (7.7 per carry), 100 receiving Musseman said. “He would even be a good receiver. He’s just a football and six touchdowns. “He has the one thing you can’t player. The kid is a leader and does coach and it’s speed,” Musseman said. everything right.” CHRIS CROSSED: Everybody’s Winters said he is working on running smart and becoming a more well- short-term goal is to start 1-0, but for rounded player. He also plans to be these Indians their zero-week opponent is a special one. They’re heading more studious in the film room. “Not being the man, I was kind to Sierra for an annual showdown that of humbled,” he said. “I was mainly has more meaning to it than in years the second guy; Aaron got a lot of past. That’s because it pits the two red-zone touches, which was fine. I Chrises, with Musseman matching learned a lot, and I worked really hard wits with his predecessor and good friend in Chris Johnson. this year.” Sierra holds a 3-2 edge over Ripon MORE WEAPONS: Daggett and the Indians will be able to spread it in the past five years. In 2003, the around more this season. Alongside Indians won 39-6 on Sierra’s first-ever Daggett and Winters in the backfield game Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stais the speedy Roland Davis, who also dium. Johnson went 77-54 and won a played for the varsity as a sophomore pair of Trans-Valley League championships over 12 years at Ripon, and last year. Senior Tino Raygoza and sopho- Musseman was there every step of the Come in NOW for more Dorian Dougherty will be the way as one of his top assistants. To Musseman, main targets at receiver. Musseman a great haircut at“It’s just another has high hopes for both wide outs, football game, in reality.” Not so a greatmuch price. for the players who have been going as far as to say that Raygoza may have better hands than the more- coached by Johnson. “We can’t wait for Week 1,” Sexton proven Paschini. “Our depth (in the skill positions) is said. “It’s a big motivation for us.”

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HOUSE MUSSEMAN Head coach: Chris Musseman (2nd year, 6-5) Staff: Michael Merchant (offensive coordinator, QB), Jorge Velasco (defensive coordinator, OLB), Ken Tyhurst (OL), Matthew Menefee (OL), Robert Kissee (RBs/soph OC), Mark Dobbins (WR), Brian Wood (QBs/frosh OC), Cole Williams (ILB/ soph DC), Glen White (DL/frosh DC), Jacob Rodriguez (DB).

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Football Preview

The Bulletin-Thursday, August 24, 2017


BACK WITH A VENGEANCE Knights eager to rebound from disappointing 2016

With an abundance of returning starters, such as LB/ OL Tristan Deshields, pictured from left, FB/ DL Willem Hoekstra and RB/ DB Michael Kamps, Ripon Christian is expecting a big turnaround from its 2-8 season. HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin

B y J O N A MAR JAC I N T O Th e Bu lletin

RIPON — Ripon Christian is out to prove that 2016 was an aberration. The Knights finished 2-8 following four straight seasons with at least nine wins, a streak that included a Southern League championship (2012) and SacJoaquin Section Division VI finalround appearance (2013). “It definitely left a bad taste in our mouth and we don’t want that to happen again,” third-year senior Willem Hoekstra said. “We’re definitely going to come back this year and show everyone we’re better than that.” Fourth-year head coach Trey Ozenbaugh had a junior-dominated team and only six seniors. Despite the inexperience, the young Knights had several encouraging — albeit frustrating — moments. Four of their losses were decided by 10 or less points, three against playoff qualifiers. “Overall, the entire season was disappointing,” Ozenbaugh said. “We feel that we have been able to develop a playoff-caliber program and we want to strive to be there every year. We had some difficult losses in tight games, certainly, but I would not take back the learning process that our juniors went through.” Three early losses set the tone. Ripon Christian faced Stone Ridge Christian and East Nicolaus — these two teams faced off in the CIF State Northern California Division VI-AA Regional Bowl Game the year before — in back-to-back weeks leading up to league play. The Knights were edged out 14-13 at Stone Ridge before taking a 46-7 beating by eventual Northern Section Division IV champion East Nicolaus. “We realized that nothing is going to be easy for us, especially with a young team,” returning junior tailback/defensive back Michael Kamps said. “We just couldn’t stay with them. This season we’re going to know a lot more about what teams are going to throw at us.” Ripon Christian then lost 17-7 to

Orestimba, which went on to claim the SL title. The Knights later came up short on another upset bid against Gustine, 21-20. They ended the year on a five-game losing streak which included a 19-14 defeat to winless Le Grand. “It was tough,” senior linebacker Tristan Deshields said. “We normally lost in the fourth quarter. That was the toughest part. We didn’t have very many players and a lot of guys go both ways. We’ve really worked on conditioning because we know we’re going to be short on players again.” Ozenbaugh said the team is better prepared for the rigors to come. There are talented players coming up from last year’s 9-1 sophomore squad, and the players fully committed to the offseason conditioning program led by strength and conditioning coaches Oliver Pryor and Justin Unruh. “We are physically the most prepared we have been,” Ozenbaugh said. Here’s a closer look at the Knights’ upcoming season: KNIGHTS WATCH: With only 23 players on the roster, depth continues to be an issue for the smallest school in the area. The coaching staff continues to grow, however. Joining Ozenbaugh are two men with extensive coaching backgrounds from outside the area. Steve Anastasio comes from Tracy — where he was head coach for West and Kimball — with a wealth of experience and will serve as assistant defensive coordinator. Former Bret Harte offensive coordinator Quinn Whittle is another key addition, and he’ll call the plays for the Knights’’ multi-formation attack. Ozenbaugh said the two additions to his staff of 13, including former Ripon Christian head coach John Vander Schaaf, are “great fits for the program.” “Hopefully coaches come here because they want to be part of the program for more than just winning,” Ozenbaugh said. “It’s about pouring their lives into these kids and having a positive impact.”

SCHEDULE Friday, Aug. 25 at Millennium (West HS, Tracy), 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1 at Stone Ridge Christian, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8 vs. Summerville, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22 at Orestimba, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29 at Waterford, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6 vs. Denair, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13 vs. Gustine, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20 at Mariposa, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27 vs. Le Grand, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3 at Delhi, 7:30 p.m.

QB QUANDARY: The coaching staff waited until this week to name its opening-night starter behind center. Seniors Mark Ozenbaugh and Hoekstra both took snaps last season, and they performed admirably in the offseason facing quality competition — such as Central Catholic, Sonora, Sierra, Escalon and Ripon — in 7-on-7 scrimmages. The younger Ozenbaugh has won the job. “The job was open during the summer and remained open through Saturday,” Trey Ozenbaugh said. “It was an earned position. He did a tremendous job this summer. Obviously, it’s different when you’re being rushed, but this is the something the staff is fully behind.” Having Mark at quarterback allows RC to make use of Hoekstra’s versatility. He’ll start at fullback and on the defensive line. Hoekstra (455 yards, three TDs) and Kamps (745 yards, seven TDs) are a formidable duo out of the backfield, and they’re also factors in the passing game. “Wherever I’m needed is fine with me,” Hoekstra said. Senior Dillon Zuidervaart is primed for a breakout season at wide out, and Ozenbaugh has a big target in 6-foot-7, 225-pound tight end Andrew Vander Weide. THE WALL: Ripon Christian will give opposing defenses several different looks on offense, but the priority is to establish the running game. “We want to control the clock,”

Ozenbaugh said. “We’re going to be a running team first. We have to have a power run game, and I feel we are deep at the skill positions with some nice pieces up front to do that. You win and lose games at the line of scrimmage, and I love the group we have and how they are gelling together.” The senior-heavy offensive line is anchored by 6-foot-2, 275-pound Willem Vermeulen at tackle and 6-2, 285-pound Justin Heida at guard on the right side. Caleb Van Vliet (5-10) returns to the center spot, and Deshields (6-2, 205) is at left tackle. “We have an awesome O-line,” Hoekstra said. “They’re going to be great this year. It all starts with them.” EDDIE’S ‘D’: Ozenbaugh lauds defensive coordinator Eddie Erdelatz as “one of the best game planners in the section.” His grandfather, also Eddie Erdelatz, was a head coach for both Navy and the Oakland Raiders and defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. He has a good mix of returning talent in the 3-5 front starting with Deshields (99 tackles) at outside linebacker and Hoekstra (84 tackles, seven sacks) and Heida (63 tackles) on the line. Kamps (34 tackles, four interceptions) leads the defensive backfield along with senior safety Dominic Darretta (69 tackles, two interceptions). ‘STUD’ SQUIRES: Four sophomores have been promoted to the varsity squad, but not just to improve the team’s depth. They’ll all see significant playing time, and three of them are starting. “We have got some stud sophomores,” coach Ozenbaugh said. At 5-foot-11, 205 pounds, Max Steele is a punishing fullback and hard-hitting outside linebacker. Wyatt Van Vliet (5-11, 220) helps fortify the defense at inside linebacker, Garrett Bryan (6-2, 225) adds depth to the lines and the wiry 6-1 Sean McGovern is expected to have a productive season at wide receiver and defensive back.

HOUSE OZENBAUGH Head coach: Trey Ozenbaugh (4th year, 20-14). Staff: Eddie Erdalatz (defensive coordinator, LB), Bill Kamps (OL/ special teams), Quinn Whittle (asst. OC), Steve Anastasio (asst. DC/DL), Ethan McMurray (WR/DB/OLB), Oliver Pryor (DL/TE/strength), Justin Unruh (strength & conditioning), Pat McGovern (advanced scouting), John Vander Schaaf (scouting/film/booth), David Vander Schaaf (scouting/film/booth), Tyler Goslinga (head athletic trainer), John Sikema (game day coordinator).




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Football Preview

The Bulletin-Thursday, August 24, 2017

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2017 Manteca Football Preview  
2017 Manteca Football Preview