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Ladiges emergence key for Buffs
Manteca High senior Robert Ladiges has carried the load for the 2-0 Buffaloes, rolling up over 300 yards rushing in the team’s two wins. - photo by Bulletin file photo
With the first few weeks of his senior season in the bag, Manteca High’s football squad is off to a solid 2-0 start, and the team is rejoicing in a big decision its leading rusher made after his freshman season at Escalon High.

Three years ago, Buffalo senior Robert Ladiges closed out an unheralded freshman campaign for the Escalon Cougars. Ladiges wasn’t the feature back and he seldom got opportunities to tote the ball. His season was limited to being another face in a crowded backfield, something that Ladiges didn’t see a future in.

Ladiges, whose brother teaches at Manteca High, decided to give his talents a shot in the Buffaloes’ program. There were no promises made; Ladiges would just be given an opportunity. Thus far it is an opportunity he’s seized with both hands.

“When I came in I knew I wanted to start both ways and try and come in and contribute to the team right away,” Ladiges said of his move west. “I heard coming in that this was one of the best classes to come through this town.”

Manteca’s senior class is attempting to live up to the hype cast over it as underclassmen, beating the Galt Warriors 51-21 and handing the Tracy Bulldogs a last-second 47-42 loss in Week 2. Ladiges has been nothing short of brilliant for Manteca, grinding to the tune of 335 yards and seven scores in Manteca’s two wins.

He is clearly Manteca’s leading force in its ground game, but Ladiges also takes pleasure in being one of Manteca’s team leaders.

“I definitely see myself as one of our leaders,” Ladiges said. “I like to lead with my action; I really don’t like to do a lot of talking. We have a bunch of vocal leaders on our team already; I like to let my actions do my talking.”
Ladiges got his season underway with a 211-yards, four TD performance debut against Galt. He pounded and bruised his way through 28 carries and pounded out another 123 against Tracy. Manteca is back to its power-football, smash-mouth style, and Ladiges is the primary beneficiary of the Buffaloes ground-attack.

“I definitely want them to depend on me for yardage,” Ladiges said. “Every yard that I get is basically because of my offensive line. They are one of the best in our league and they open up huge holes for me every game and they are always working hard in practice.

“I’ve done well because they work so hard at making each other better.”

The Buffaloes have one more preseason contest before kicking off a wide-open Valley Oak League season. Ladiges and the Buffaloes are off to a great start, but everything usually goes well when the victories are piling up.

“This is the most fun I have had in my entire life,” Ladiges said of the season’s opening. “There has been nothing that can compare to this. As a group, we will need to be more focused in practice and push each other.

“We all have to come out here and work, because it all starts at practice.”

To contact Jagada Chambers, e-mail