STOCKTON — Robert Ladiges will put his talents on display at the University of the Pacific this Saturday.
Then it’s off to Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., not be confused with UOP of Stockton.
Manteca High’s former star running back is preparing for the 38th annual Central California Lions All-Star Football Game that will take place at UOP’s Amos Alonzo Stagg Stadium in Stockton.
For some it’s the last full-contact football game of their careers. Not so for Ladiges, who accepted a partial academic scholarship from Pacific University.
“There’s nothing athletic about (the scholarship),” Ladiges joked.
Athletics surely had something to do with it. It was Pacific, after all, that sought him out.
Pacific — an NCAA Division-III school that competes in the Northwest Conference —completed its first football season in 19 years last fall, going 0-9 with an all freshman-sophomore roster that includes Ripon High product Anthony Meneses.
Operating out of a pro-style offense, the Boxers relied heavily on their passing game to get points on the board. They’re hoping the 5-foot-9, 200-pound Ladiges can provide some punch to their ground attack after producing just two rushing touchdowns in 2010. Pacific’s top rusher averaged just 3.2 yards in 98 carries.
“It’s a plus for me, I’ll have a chance to play right away,” said Ladiges, who will also get a look at linebacker.
Ladiges helped Manteca earn a share of the Valley Oak League championship in his senior year and was named the conference’s Most Valuable Player. He was also selected the Bulletin’s All-Area MVP.
Ladiges was one of the Sac-Joaquin Section’s most prolific rushers, finishing the year with 1,650 yards and 25 touchdowns on 272 attempts.
Pacific University is located roughly 25 miles from Portland with an enrollment of about 3,400.
Ladiges, who will major in kinesiology, was also pursued by NCAA Division-III Cornell College of Iowa but turned down a full-ride scholarship to be closer to home.
“I’m looking forward to going to college, meeting new people and just being out on my own,” he said.