The Manteca football team won its seventh straight game to start the season with the spirit of The Herd pushing it past an ancient crosstown rival.
On the scoreboard, the win against East Union was emphatic, 62-6. In the stands, however, Manteca and The Herd had a tougher time separating from the Lancers and their Red Sea, a raucous red-and-blue cheer section.
“I really don’t think the crowd understands their excitement feeds our players. We are lucky to have the Red Sea,” said East Union coach Mike Kuhnlenz.
School spirit is a staple in making those Friday night lights come to life. Even though the Manteca Unified School District was on fall break, both schools filled Dino Cunial Stadium, packing the bleachers on both sides of the field. Manteca and East Union have been rivals since EU opened in 1966, and while both sides claim to have the better student section, there can only be one winner.
So, how did Manteca get it done? Here’s the tale of the tape.
East Union: The Red Sea drowned the Herd with its number of supporters, filling the home stands with the colors of the American flag.
Manteca: Though there were less attendees, The Herd left no wiggle room for the rest of Manteca’s fanbase. The visitor’s stands were filled to the brim.
Winner: Red Sea
East Union: The Red Sea started strong, flooding the stadium with cheers in the first quarter. As the game went on and the score grew distant so did the excitement of the home crowd. Shouts once as big as waves became as calm as ponds.
Manteca: Herd Shepherd Addisyn Allen, one of the cheer section’s student leaders, said the Buffaloes believed in quality over quantity. “Whether there is 6 or 600 of us, we are going to make it loud and show we are here,” she said. Even with a smaller student section, you could hear The Herd across the field loud and proud.
Winner: The Herd
East Union: Cut outs, signs, and face paint all made their way through the Red Sea. The school brought their support but lacked that “wow” factor to make them stand out.
Manteca: Even though it was an away game, The Herd did not leave its props at home. The Herd left the Red Sea green envy with its green hair, glitter and smoke. “Part of what has made our season so fun is our Herd has been so phenomenal. We have huge crowds at home and away games,” blushed Manteca coach Mark Varnum.
Winner: The Herd
East Union: One of the Red Sea's biggest problems in this game was consistency. Once the Lancers had the ball, the crowd could be heard from miles away. But the cheer section lost its fire as the score got away from its football team. With their size advantage, the Red Sea had the potential to quiet The Herd but found themselves in a drought.
Manteca: The Herd has undying loyalty to the Buffaloes’ football program. The crowd shouted and screamed from the opening kickoff to the final whistle. The Herd had its foot fully on the gas, leaving the Red Sea in the dust. Jayson Ingraca, a leader of The Herd, states how big of a difference the crowd makes: "As an athlete myself, the crowd gives off confidence and momentum, it really shifts the energy one way to another.”
Overall winner: The Herd
Celeste Randolph is a student intern with FrontRowPreps.com. Randolph is a senior at Sierra High School. She is enrolled in the school’s Broadcast Journalism and Communication By Design courses.