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Vanden stuns top-seeded Manteca
Manteca High quarterback Matt Burrows looks up at the scoreboard showing the lopsided score in Manteca’s 55-22 loss to Vanden Friday night in the first round of Sac-Joaquin Divison III playoffs. - photo by Photos by JAMES LEONARD
Manteca High head coach Eric Reis said he knew that Vanden was better than its playoff seeding indicated.

And he couldn’t have been more right.

After coming out to start the game with an early touchdown, top-seeded Manteca simply couldn’t match the No. 16 Vikings’ size or speed on either side of the ball, giving up more points than they had all season in a 55-22 loss Friday night at Guss Schmiedt Field in the first round of Sac-Joaquin Division III playoff action.

“The hard part for us was that they had a big speed and size advantage,” Reis said. “When they started rolling it pretty much snowballed and there wasn’t much we could do. Inside, outside – there was no way that we could stop them.”

The Buffaloes came out firing after receiving the kickoff to start the game and marched 48 yards in just over a minute-and-a-half to put the game’s first points on the board, courtesy of a 1-yard Robert Ladiges run.

Things appeared to swing in Manteca’s favor when Vanden came out on offense and turned the ball over on downs, but a Matt Burrows interception gave the Vikings the ball back, and the momentum shifted steadily to the opposite sideline.

With junior quarterback Ben Scott at the helm, Vanden drove downfield and tied the game on a Scott pass to Kevin Orme – a play that seemed to give Scott the confidence he needed to pick apart the Manteca secondary and rely on his huge offensive line to get the job done.
He didn’t throw another incomplete pass for the remainder of the game.

“Their quarterback was good. I saw him during warm-ups and couldn’t believe how accurate he was and how strong his arm was,” Reis said. “We don’t see athletes like that in the Valley Oak League. They have size, but they’re also very athletic, and when we saw that we knew that we were going to have our hands full.”

The tandem of Scott and Orme would be a deadly one for Manteca as they teamed up together to score 34 unanswered points and end any hope that Manteca had of making a comeback.

Orme would steadily grind his way to 116 yards rushing on 17 carries, with four trips to the end zone. Scott would finish the game 15-of-19 passing with 308 yards and two touchdown passes.

While Manteca had a balanced offense coming into the game, the speed of Vanden’s defensive front and their aggressive blitz-first approach took the thunder away from its running game and forced quarterback Matt Burrows to try and make magic from inside the pocket.

Pressure from Vanden’s enormous defensive line – anchored by 6-foot-3, 370-pound nose tackle Pierson Ma’afu – shot down that approach as well.

Burrows finished the game 10-of-24 passing with 145 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Manteca running back Robert Ladiges, who had run for more than a hundred yards in every game during the regular season, simply couldn’t find any space to make anything happen. With 11 carries in the game, Ladiges only racked up 24 yards with a 1-yard touchdown run on Manteca’s first drive.

“They were just more physical than we were tonight,” Ladiges said. “The holes just weren’t there. Our line was blocking those guys the best that they could, but it just didn’t happen. They wanted it more than we did, and we couldn’t do anything to stop them.”