Central Valley High School's varsity football team faced a familiar opponent in Manteca during the opening-round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs last week.
The Hawks lost 69-55 to the host Buffaloes while making their first-ever appearance in the playoffs during the 2013-14 school year.
Eleventh-seeded Central Valley nearly erased a 21-point deficit before falling 31-28 to No. 6 Manteca Friday night at Gus Schmiedt Field.
"It was a great experience," Hawks senior fullback Jamarea Lumpkin said. "We actually played well for most of the game. It would have meant a whole lot if we won. We battled until the end."
Central Valley star Moses Ghiorso gained 96 yards and scored two touchdowns, both team highs, on 14 carries.
Lumpkin added 47 yards and one TD on 16 attempts.
Reuben Rodriguez completed 5 of 12 passes for 48 yards with two interceptions.
Ghiorso caught three passes for 15 yards.
Josh Sidhu's and Bobby Nieto's lone receptions covered 20 and 13 yards, respectively.
Central Valley's Emani Anitelea registered 11 tackles and returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown.
Sophomore Estevan Barragan tallied 10 tackles and forced one fumble.
Oso Fregoso totaled eight tackles.
Julian Gutierrez had six tackles and one pass deflection.
Central Valley's potential, go-ahead drive ended with a turnover on downs at its own 27-yard line.
Rodriguez just missed connecting with Ghiorso near midfield on fourth-and-7.
"It wasn't a drop," Edwards said. "The ball hit his fingertips. Football is a game of inches. If he would have caught it, he would have scored. They wouldn't have caught him."
Central Valley fell behind 21-0 in the first quarter thanks in large part to a pair of special-teams gaffes and one interception.
"I can't explain it," Edwards said. "There might have been some nervousness. You take away the first five minutes of the game and we dominated. It was an awesome effort."
Added Lumpkin: "They capitalized on our mistakes. They're a great team."
The Hawks had their four-game winning streak snapped by the Buffaloes.
Manteca also ended Central Valley's season.
The Hawks compiled a program-best 7-4 overall record and finished in second place in the Western Athletic Conference (5-1) this fall.
The tradition-rich Buffaloes improved to 9-2 on the year. Manteca placed third in the Valley Oak League (5-2).
The Buffaloes' two losses were to top-seeded Central Catholic (11-0, 7-0) and second-seeded Oakdale (10-1, 6-1).
"There were a lot of memorable moments," Lumpkin said. "It (beating 2014 WAC-champion Los Banos 42-21) ranks pretty high. We met our goals, but exceeded everybody else's expectations. Nobody thought we'd get to playoffs. We proved a lot of people wrong."
"It was a fun season," Edwards said. "A lot of good things happened. We were truly a team. We played solid on offense, defense and special teams. We developed a bond and trust. We learned some life lessons. I couldn't be more proud of my team."