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Pitch & Pass
Burrows big arm, leadership keyed Mantecas successful football, baseball teams
Manteca High's Matt Burrows is the Manteca Bulletins Male Athlete of the Year for 2010-11. - photo by Bulletin file photo

Matt Burrows has a big arm.

He showed that off for Manteca High’s football and baseball teams as its star quarterback and hard-throwing pitcher.

Burrows also has a big presence.

And we’re not talking about his 6-foot-1, 240-pound frame.

It’s his leadership in the huddle and the dugout, and his ability to back the rah-rah by working hard in practice and performing in big games.

He is the ultimate gamer and competitor, one of the few with the knack for willing himself and his teams out of tough situations and pulling out some thrilling victories.

Burrows, also a four-year basketball player for Manteca’s program, is the Bulletin’s Male Athlete of the Year for 2010-11.

Backed by workhorse running back Robert Ladiges, Burrows was at the controls of the area’s most prolific and balanced offense during the 2010 football season.

The Buffaloes have established a tradition of smash-mouth football, but Burrows added an element that the program has rarely enjoyed over the years.

Burrows was named the Bulletin’s All-Area and Valley Oak League’s Offensive Player of the Year, completing 55.7 percent of his passes (118-for-212), 2,036 yards and 24 touchdowns against nine interceptions.

In non-league play, Burrows engineered epic come-from-behind drives against quality Division-I opponents on back-to-back weeks.

In Week 2, he completed the game-winning touchdown pass from 26 yards out with no time left to stun traditional rival Tracy 47-42 at home.

And in Modesto, Manteca overcame a two-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter to upend powerhouse Enochs, 34-33. In this case, Ladiges was the late-game hero, carrying the ball 17 times en route to two touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone.

But those two games were two of the best for Burrows, who struck for three touchdowns and compiled over 260 yards in each contest.

The Buffaloes went on to win a share of the VOL championship with rival Oakdale, whom they beat, 35-28.

The football season had a sour end for Burrows and the Buffs, however.

East Union spoiled Manteca’s bid for a perfect 10-0 regular season and the outright title with a 10-7 win that broke a 10-year losing streak to the Buffaloes.

And in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs, top-seeded Manteca was shocked 55-22 by No. 16 Vanden.

The baseball season also ended in defeat for Burrows, and it was literally a painful one.

More on that later.

Burrows may not have had the season at the plate as he did as a junior when he was the VOL’s Offensive Player of the Year, but he produced solid numbers nonetheless: a .341 batting average, two homers and 22 RBIs.

From the mound, he went 5-5 with a 2.55 earned run average and 83 strikeouts in 66 innings.

Like he did during the football season, Burrows had some brilliant moments in the diamond.

In a league contest against eventual co-champ Oakdale, he gave up just three hits and struck out nine in an eight-inning masterpiece that culminated in a much-needed 6-1 victory.

And there were his stellar performances in Manteca’s best-of-three SJS Division-IV playoff series with East Union in the semifinal round at Lodi’s Zupo Field.

He went 3 for 3 in Manteca’s 6-5 win in Game 1. East Union forced the if-necessary contest with a 4-3 victory, and in the rubber match Burrows came through in a big way.

He blasted a game-tying solo homer and overcame a shaky pitching start by retiring 14 of the final 16 batters and striking out nine total in the thrilling 3-2 triumph that sent Manteca to its first-ever section-finals appearance.

The Buffaloes encountered a familiar foe in the championship game.

Oakdale was competing for its fourth section banner in five years and got the job done in closer-than-it-looks fashion, 14-4. Oakdale broke open a heated back-and-forth affair in the bottom of the sixth with nine runs.

Because of his past success against the Mustangs, Burrows got the nod over ace Kevin Peck, the VOL’s Pitcher of the Year.

Burrows didn’t get to finish.

He rolled his ankle while scoring from third base on an overthrown pickoff throw in the top of the third. His final start in his high school career lasted all of two innings.

The injury kept him from playing in the 21st Annual High School All-Star Baseball Classic and 38th Central California Lions All-Star Football Game.

Burrows still showed up in crutches to support fellow Buffaloes who were also selected.

And that’s Burrows in a nutshell.


• School: East Union
• Year: Senior
• Sports: Football, basketball
• Achievements: All-VOL first-team selection in football and basketball after leading both teams back to playoff after extended absences (18 years in football, four years in basketball) … Spread QB threw for 1,564 yards and 13 TDs and rushed for 541 and 10 … Also the centerpiece of the freewheeling, guard-oriented basketball team, averaging 13.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, three assists and 2.3 steals.

• School
: East Union
• Year: Sophomore
• Sports: Soccer, basketball, baseball
• Achievements: Key contributor for three playoff teams … Center midfielder missed final six games of soccer season after suffering a nasty ankle injury but still led the area with 11 assists … Dangerous 3-point shooter who scored 12.8 points per game for basketball team … Pitching ace helped baseball club earn VOL co-championship with 1.11 ERA and 7-3 record while leading team with 28 RBIs.

• School: Sierra
• Year: Senior
• Sports: Football, track
• Achievements: Strong safety was Sierra’s defensive leader in football and selected to all-VOL first team … Finished with 67 tackles, three sacks, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles … Was area’s top sprinter in track, earning winning the 100 and 200 in the VOL and SJS Division-IV/V meets … Team captured fifth divisional title in seven years … On 4x100 team that placed 11th in state-meet prelims.

• School: Ripon Christian
• Year: Senior
• Sports: Basketball, golf
• Achievements: Three-time all-area selection in golf … Co-medalist in Southern League Tournament … All-Area and conference MVP in basketball led Knights to perfect season in league, semifinals in section playoffs and NorCal tourney appearance … Averaged 18.4 points and 6.5 rebounds … School valedictorian, national finalist for Wendy’s High School Heisman Award and A. Dale Lacky Scholarship Award winner … Will play both sports for Trinity Christian College in Illinois.

• School: Sierra
• Year: Senior
• Sports: Football, basketball, track
• Achievements: Only football player in VOL to earn all-league first-team recognition on offense (wide receiver) and defense (punter) … At 6 foot-3, was one of area’s top WRs with 38 receptions, 600 yards and seven TDs … Key reserve for playoff basketball team with ability to defend guards and posts … In VOL track meet, took second in 110 hurdles, third in 300 hurdles, first in high jump and second in pole vault … Named Sierra’s all-around male senior athlete of the year.

— Jonamar Jacinto