When one drives into the town of Oakdale on Highway 108, there are signs about beef, places to eat beef and businesses that cater to the beef industry.
On Friday night at Oakdale’s historic high school stadium, known as The Corral, it was visiting Manteca that brought the beef. With an offensive line featuring Isaac McClain (6-3, 292), Joe Eavenson (6-5, 312) and Billy Sharmoug (6-2, 300), the Buffaloes ran and passed effectively and knocked around Oakdale 35-20 in a matchup of two top 10 teams from the CIF Division II North rankings.
Oakdale, which came into the game at 3-2 with both losses by one point to higher-ranked teams, will fall from No. 7 in next week’s rankings. Manteca improved to 5-1 and will rise from No. 9. The Buffaloes also could threaten No. 4 Enterprise of Redding, which is 6-0 after Friday but only beat Oakdale 23-22 earlier in the season.
Manteca head coach Eric Reis had one of his assistants playfully remove an imaginary monkey off his back after the win, then posed for a photo with his players in recognition for his 100th win.
One of the beneficiaries of that massive offensive front was senior running back Alex Laurel. According to the Modesto Bee, he rushed for 202 yards and scored three times, including an 80-yard run on the first play of the second half that opened up a 28-0 lead for the Buffaloes.
“It’s the best experience a running back can have with that line in front of me,” Laurel said. “When those big bodies get moving, you just know there’s going to be something good on the other side.”
Senior quarterback Joe Menzel also had a big night for Manteca. He threw three touchdown passes, including a six-yarder to Laurel with just nine seconds left before halftime. His other TDs went to tight end Michael Hatfield (15 yards) and wideout Brandon Dabney (37 yards).
Oakdale has won or shared in six straight Valley Oak League titles and is coming off a 2012 season that ended with a loss to Serra of Gardena in the CIF Division II state bowl game. The Mustangs played much better in the second half than in the first with three 80-yard scoring drives, but it was too much of a deficit for them to come all the way back.
Boone Whiting, a junior, scored two of the three TDs on runs of 1 and 46 yards. He also had a 40-yard run that set up the first score.