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Playoff teams relying heavily on quarterbacks
Sierra’s Adrian Valencia has played an integral role in the Timberwolves' run to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs. - photo by Bulletin file photo
A quick peek at the statistical accomplishments of these three playoff quarterbacks and it’s easy to see how their respective squads found their way into the second season.

Yet, the reality is there are no categories capable of measuring the level of importance signal-callers TeeJay Gordon, Matt Burrows and Adrian Valencia provide for their teams.

The trio of quarterbacks all posted significant numbers in the passing category, with Valencia and Gordon also having significant contributions on the ground. Burrows was also effective on the ground (95 yards), but distanced himself from the rest with 1,877 passing yards.

“I don’t know about expecting the numbers he totaled, but we definitely believed that he could make any throw on the field,” Manteca offensive coordinator Neil MacDannald said. “We based that on what kind of competitor he is and what kind of big arm he had. We didn’t have a lot of experience at the receiver position, but we did have a half-dozen guys who can get down the field and make something happen.

“They really complement each other well.”

Burrows led the Buffaloes to a Valley Oak League co-championship, finishing the season with an area-best 21 touchdown passes. Burrows benefited from a bruising rushing attack led by senior Robert Ladiges, forcing defenses to respect Ladiges’ capabilities while giving Burrows enough room to do damage.

“We had a major factor on the ground with Ladiges and if we didn’t have a passing game the defenses would just key on Ladiges,” Burrows said. “We would not have been able to move the ball as well as we did this year.

“For us to have any success, we had to be able to run and pass the football well, and we did that, that’s why we’re in the playoffs.”

Sierra was able to reap the benefits of having a dual-threat quarterback in Valencia, getting over 1,300 yards from him passing and another 322 yards on the ground. Valencia shredded defenses for 15 touchdowns through the air, while weaving his way to another eight scores on the ground.

“I think Adrian helps our team most in the passing game,” Timberwolves offensive coordinator Jeff Abrew said. “He has a very strong arm, he understands our offense and he has been excellent in making his reads.

“He definitely benefitted from his experience last year and over the summer he really bought in to what we wanted him to do; he really stepped it up.”

Valencia calmly slid into the spotlight during the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs last year, picking up for an injured John Davis and leading Sierra to victory. Valencia piled up 218 yards on 20 carries with a touchdown, giving the Timberwolves reason to expect a strong showing from Valencia in this year’s postseason opener.

“I think my biggest job is to keep our tempo up,” Valencia said. “I have to keep us moving like we were on (Nov. 5), and execute with each and every play all throughout the game. It’s most important for me to make my reads and do what coach has taught me to do.

“I doesn’t matter what I do, running or passing, I just have to execute on everything I do and it’ll work out fine.”

Of the three quarterbacks, East Union’s Gordon has had the most required of him on the road to the postseason. His total yardage eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark and the Lancers definitely needed each of his 23 touchdowns. Yet, deciphering what was more important, the 13 in the air, or the 10 on the ground is nearly impossible.

“I don’t know which one I help my team most with, but I think it’s both,” Gordon said of his dual-threat capabilities. “It makes the defense worry about either running or passing. If I roll out, they can’t just focus on sitting back and watching the pass, because I’m dangerous both ways.”

Gordon has played a prominent role in the Lancers’ season-long success, but will have to take his leadership role to new heights if East Union is going to be able to stop No. 11 seed Del Oro. The Lancers seemingly defied the odds with their win over previously unbeaten Manteca High in the VOL finale, but continuing their season another week will take more than just believing.

“We all definitely think that we can win this game,” Gordon said of Friday’s matchup. “When we have our Red Sea behind us we’re 5-0 at home, so we do have some home-field advantage.

“We’ve been proving everybody wrong, so we’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”