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East Union coach, Manteca standouts top VOL honorees

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Manteca High running back Robert Ladiges rushed for 1,650 yards and 25 touchdowns in 11 games this past fall and was named the Valley Oak League's Most Valuable Player Monday.

Bulletin file photo/

POSTED December 7, 2010 1:43 a.m.
What was arguably the most exciting high school football season in Manteca was officially put to rest during the year-end coaches meeting at Chez Shari Monday.

The success enjoyed by all three schools in town — Manteca, East Union, Sierra — was reflected in the all-Valley Oak League selections, as three of the four major awards stayed within the city’s limits.

East Union’s Mike James was voted Coach of the Year after leading the Lancers (4-3, 7-4 overall) to their first postseason berth since 1992, undefeated non-league start since 1993 and first winning season since 1999.

But East Union’s crowning achievement of 2010 was perhaps its 10-7 shocker over Manteca High in Week 10, which not only snapped a 10-year winless drought against its oldest rival, but also ruined the Buffaloes’ bid for a perfect 10-0 regular-season finish.

Co-champion Manteca (6-1, 9-2) is home to the league’s Most Valuable Player, workhorse running back Robert Ladiges, and Outstanding Offensive Player, canon-armed quarterback Matt Burrows.

Linebacker A.C. Brown of Oakdale is the Outstanding Defensive Player. Oakdale holds the other half of the league title. On Saturday, the Mustangs were defeated by powerhouse Del Oro 21-0 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship game at Sacramento State.

In the Trans Valley League, three Ripon High players were named to the all-conference defensive team. Ripon Christian had just one athlete make the first-team cut in its inaugural football season in the Southern League.

Including Ladiges and Burrows, the Buffaloes led Manteca Unified teams with 10 first-team selections in the VOL.

Ladiges typified Manteca’s power running game that is the staple for all of its successful teams in years past. He led all area players with 1,650 yards and 25 touchdowns while displaying surprising burst and cuts out of the backfield to go with his physical running style.

Burrows was the other reason why Manteca’s offense was the area’s most explosive. He completed 56 percent of his 212 passes for 2,036 yards and 21 touchdowns to nine interceptions. Manteca had eight different players finish the season with at least 21 catches, one of them being first-team wide receiver Mike Timmins (33 receptions, 567 yards, 9 TDs).

Other Buffaloes selected to the first team were: offensive linemen Dylan Law and Johnny Ruiz, tight end Matt Mueller, defensive lineman Josh Nkwocha, linebackers C.J. Rivas and Brennen Resendes and defensive back Zach Gase.

Grant Widmer of Sierra (5-2, 6-5) is the only area player to make the all-league first team for both offense and defense, doing so as a wide receiver (38 receptions, 600 yards, 7 TDs) and punter.

Sophomore RB Anthony Cota, OL Adam Bennett, defensive linemen Ted Slade and Rico Roberts, linebacker Nick Baker and defensive back Stephen Thayer join Widmer on the first team.
East Union’s lone first-team honoree is senior QB TeeJay Gordon. The multifaceted playmaker was the focal point of EU’s change to a spread offense. He completed 55.4 percent of his passes for 1,564 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine picks while rushing for 541 yards and 10 scores.

Trans Valley/Southern
Ripon (3-3 TVL, 5-5 overall) had one player recognized for his play on both sides of scrimmage, and he’s only a sophomore. Cornerback Cole Herrin earned all-TVL honors by racking up an area-high six interceptions while also earning honorable mention as a wide out.

Andy Bunting, a big-bodied defensive lineman with a mean streak, was named to the all-league defensive team for the second straight year. Junior inside linebacker T.J. Flores, among area leaders with 94 tackles joins Bunting on the defensive team.

The Indians missed out on an opportunity to advance to the SJS Division-IV playoffs but gave up a spot to Orestimba via a 40-21 loss in the final regular-season game of the season.

Ripon Christian (3-4, 3-7) struggled in its first go-round in the SL in what ended up being a rebuilding season, though the Knights finished strong by winning three of their last four.

Isaac Norman, an all-TVL player last year, keyed their late-season charge. He paced RC with 1,043 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, and a lot of that came from an outstanding Week-10 effort (23 rushes, 334 yards, 4 TDs) in a 35-6 win against Gustine.
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