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Ladiges rushes for 211 yards, four scores
Manteca High running back Robert Ladiges muscles his way through the Galt defense for one of his four touchdowns against Galt Friday at Guss Schmiedt Field. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Anyone anticipating the unveiling of what could be an explosive passing attack for Manteca High, known over the years more for its punishing ground-and-pound running game, might have been disappointed Friday at Guss Schmiedt Field.

Maybe not that disappointed.

Anchored by running back Robert Ladiges and their powerful linemen, the Buffaloes trampled visiting Galt to the tune of 345 rushing yards and a 51-22 victory.

“It was back to power football,” Manteca coach Eric Reis said. “Robert Ladiges ran the ball real well, and I’m real happy with what we did up front. We controlled the line of scrimmage.”

With Dylan Law, JT Agbulos, CJ Rivas, Johnny Ruiz and Nestor Chacala manhandling Galt’s defensive front, Ladiges was able to churn out 211 yards and four touchdowns on 28 carries.

It was the senior’s first game as the featured runner out of Manteca’s backfield as he concentrated his efforts at linebacker last year, but his status was questionable going into the team’s 2010 season opener after suffering a concussion last week.

“The O-line opened up holes so big that I didn’t know what to do with them,” Ladiges said. “There were big enough holes for a truck to drive through.”

Galt (1-1) presented Manteca some problems, mainly in the form of highly-regarded running back-safety Haran Piggee. The best way for Manteca to neutralize him in the first half was to simply keep him on the field as a defender.

Manteca had some good fortune early on after Ladiges ran in Manteca’s first score from 6 yards out with 9:30 to go in the first quarter. Joe Trout recovered the ball for Manteca on the ensuing kickoff when the ball unexpectedly caromed off Galt player Marco Avalos.

Manteca pounced again on Ladiges’ 5-yard run for a two-score lead.

“We didn’t want to kick it deep,” Reis said. “We just wanted to squib kick it and it so happened to hit the kid. With those guys in the kicking game they’re scary.”

Galt struck back quickly with Joe Hanley returning the next kickoff 93 yards, but that again kept the Warriors’ offense sidelined. Galt didn’t run a play from scrimmage until there was 4 minutes left in the opening quarter.

Piggee inevitably got his. He closed the Warriors in, 21-14, midway through the second with a 77-yard catch-and-run play. And with Galt coming out of halftime down 30-14, Piggee broke a 54-yard run on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter to set up Auston Solway’s 8-yard TD run.

The turning point of the game came on the next series.

Ladiges’ 1-yard touchdown punctuated a 13-play, 75-yard drive that chomped off 6 minutes, 23 seconds. Galt turned it over three plays later with Zach Gase intercepting a pass, then quarterback Matt Burrows (6-of-16, 153 yards, INT) delivered the knockout blow on the following sequence with a 44-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jesse Smith up the middle.

It was rout city from there.

“We had an answer — that was the key,” Reis said. “Letting them score on two plays could be so demoralizing.”

Hurting Galt’s chances of a comeback was an injury sustained by its star player. Piggee cramped up during Manteca’s time-consuming drive and was kept off the field for the entire fourth quarter. He finished with 93 yards rushing and 91 receiving, and Galt was limited to one first down and 89 total yards of offense in the second half.

“(That hurt) a lot,” Galt coach Rich Maberto said of Piggee’s second-half absence. “You see what he can do when he gets the ball in his hands. We have other guys, but with Haran in the game we can pretty much score any way we can get it to him.

“Manteca took it to us,” Maberto added. “They shoved the ball down our throats and our guys hung their heads a little too early instead of fighting.”