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Merzon Tapped For Cal-Hi Coach Of The Year Honors
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Showing his lighter side, OHS varsity football head coach Trent Merzon pulls aside senior Michael Everett during the Jan. 15 football awards ceremony and talks about the condition of Everetts helmet. Dennis D. Cruz/The Leader

After 17 years at the helm of the varsity football Oakdale Mustangs, head coach Trent Merzon has been recognized at the state level for his efforts. Earlier this month, Merzon was named Cal-Hi Sports Coach of the Year in the ‘medium schools’ division.

“It’s obviously nice to be named Coach of the Year for the state of California. But here (Oakdale) we don’t put a lot of thought into external awards, or individual awards,” a humbled Merzon noted. “The State Championship is the major accomplishment for us.”

This year’s edition of the Mustangs didn’t stop playing until mid-December.

“It is quite an honor, there are a lot of deserving head coaches in the state of California. To me it is an honor that did not come by myself. I have the best supportve staff in the state,” Merzon added. “My athletic director, Mr. Dave Bacigalupi, our Superintendent Marc Malone, Principal Mike Moore, and everyone else at the school and district that supports us and the kids. My coaching staff is amazing and is a large part of the team’s success, the medical staff, and the community as a whole all contributed to our season, and this honor.”

The 2016 season was a memorable year, to say the least, for Merzon and the Mustangs. After a disappointing loss to former league rival Sonora, Oakdale rattled off impressive wins and shared the Valley Oak League title, won the Section Championship, defeated Sutter to win the NorCal Championship and shut out Bishop’s of La Jolla to become the 2016 CIF State Division 3A Champions.

“The support we had down there (La Jolla) was amazing. Our fans always travel well, but to fill the stands, and half of Bishop’s side of the stands was truly special; and to come home late on a Sunday night, just before Christmas and to have the town welcome us back on the streets and in the school parking lot was a sight to see and I will never forget that night,” Merzon said.

The coach went on to credit those who came before him as mentors and had a major influence on his coaching career.

“Marc Malone taught me how to coach; he got me into coaching, and provided me with the opportunity to coach almost two decades ago. Marc is my football evaluator to this day, he sits down and watches film with me and I am very thankful for him,” said Merzon. “Tim Meyer is an amazing assistant and he does a great job with the kids year after year. I have a great staff across the board. On the other side, I am a spiritual guy. I love the Lord and Jesus is my rock. He inspires me to get up every day and to do my job.”

Merzon is a health teacher at OHS and believes that the school community itself played a large part in the team’s success as well.

“This school is amazing. The staff is great and supportive. I’ve said it before but 90 percent of the coaches at OHS are alumni and are teachers at the school,” Merzon noted. “That is the key to Mustang success for any of our athletics programs.”