On Sunday evening, Dec. 18 hundreds of members of the Oakdale community flooded the streets to welcome back their State Champion varsity Mustangs football team. As the team buses entered town along Yosemite Avenue, members of the Oakdale Police Department and Oakdale Fire Department escorted the team through downtown Oakdale to a warm and welcoming ovation on the otherwise chilly night.
Fans, family members and alumni were on hand with handmade signs that read “Welcome Back Champs” and “Forever Champions” to salute the CIF Division 3A state title won by the Mustangs on Saturday night. They defeated Bishop’s of La Jolla, 47-0, to win the title. (See story, additional photos in Sports, Page A10). The appreciative crowd also carried air horns, whistles, and other noise makers to show their gratitude and support of the team’s arrival.
The team buses traveled through downtown Oakdale along F Street until turning off the reach its final destination at Oakdale High School on West G Street. The emotional scene at the Oakdale High School parking lot saw hundreds more welcoming the team and for some, the chance to see the state trophy up close for the first time. When the buses came to a complete stop and the doors opened, the ovation the players and staff received were even louder than the sirens that escorted them throughout their arrival.
“This is a special evening. This town is amazing. I’m not sure the kids on the team realize just how special this is just yet. Our alumni that not only made the trip to La Jolla, but to hear the support we got from Oakdale, and the guys who live out of state watched the game live,” head coach Trent Merzon said of the outpouring of love and support. “We had alumni from Arkansas, Washington and other states send in their support and that means a lot to us. Our current kids, are living in the moment, as well they should because they have earned this moment. Coming into town tonight, I think they got a small glimpse of what it is about.”
This was Merzon’s first state title in his 17 years as head coach with the team.
“We are unified. Regardless of political views, social beliefs, spiritual beliefs. As a football coach of this team, that’s my job; to help unify this town together.” Merzon added as players and coaches embraced family and friends all around him. “Clearly this team means a lot to the town, and again I can’t thank everyone enough for their endless support.”