That was before the injuries — and the losses — began to mount.
Now, with two regular-season games left, the shorthanded Ravens will need to win out in both if they hope to make the postseason, following a 49-18 loss to the visiting Manteca Buffaloes on Sunday, Oct. 9.
Despite the loss, Patterson coach Keith Parker’s focus is geared more toward the well-being of his remaining players.
“We’re just as concerned with our team and how we play as we are with the standings,” Parker said. “You’re not worried about secondary things when you’re fighting injuries and trying to compete in the postseason.”
Patterson (3-5) was forced to play with a smaller roster than normal this past weekend, with seven starters lost to various injuries, and the Ravens resources weren’t enough against their physically imposing opponents.
“We couldn’t match up with (Manteca’s) size,” Parker said. “They were big and fast, and they posed a bunch of problems for us defensively.”
Patterson’s Demario Hammond returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the first quarter. Teammate Ruben Rosas later rushed for another TD.
“If there was a positive, it was that everyone got some playing time,” Parker said. “We’re still in it. We just need to take it one game at a time.”
An interception returned for a touchdown proved to be the difference for Manteca during the Buffaloes’ 13-12 victory against the JV Ravens.
Patterson’s offense just couldn’t get on track in the first half, starting much slower than coach Read Weinzheimer would have liked.
“They were a big team, and we definitely had our problems against them early,” Weinzheimer said. “It was hard to contain them when they had the ball. We did our best.”
Despite the Buffaloes’ size advantage, Patterson’s defense stood firm, and the Ravens trailed just 7-0 at halftime.
“We were keeping it close and really working our tails off to stay with (Manteca),” Weinzheimer said.
The game’s turning point was in the third quarter, when the Buffaloes intercepted a Patterson pass and returned it all the way to the end zone for a 13-0 lead.
“I think that without that (interception), we find a way to win this (game),” Weinzheimer said.
The Ravens scored twice down the stretch, capitalizing on touchdowns by Jacob Days and Michael Lawson.
Following his score, Lawson was held about a yard shy of the end zone while trying to run in the potential go-ahead 2-point conversion.
The Ravens could still clinch a playoff berth with a victory over visiting Hilmar on Saturday, Oct. 16.
“It’s getting down to do-or-die time,” Weinzheimer said. “We’re not going to give up. We just need to be game-ready from the first quarter.”