“It ain’t easy to walk to the top of a mountain. It’s a long, hard walk. It’s a rocky road. But I plan on walking. Oh I’m gonna walk…hard. I will walk hard.”
So maybe that quote from the movie Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story has virtually no relevance to the rest of this column, but if I can convince one person to see this epic funny film by Judd Apatow, then I can feel like I accomplished something this week.
It’s also a theme not completely unlike the one displayed by 2012 Oakdale High graduate Justin Martin who walked…hard, onto the University of Wyoming football team to land the gig as Wyoming’s kickoff specialist. (I lied. I did tie that quote to something relevant.)
Martin was a thrill for the Mustang football team and now the walk-on has taken his big boot to the Cowboys front line on kickoffs this fall. I can’t imagine a much better suited athlete for kickoffs than Martin, who not only has a tremendous leg, but is a sure-tackler with a nose for the ball. Not many return specialists will get past that kicker.
And while Justin Martin is kicking pigskins, 2004 OHS grad and Oakdale MMA fighter Martin Sandoval is throwing kicks that could knock the skin off a pig’s nose. He fights on Oct. 6 as the main event of an Art of War Productions card at the Chicken Ranch Casino.
Maybe it’s just a good time to have a Martin in your name, or maybe the two are campaigning for the right to have their combined namesake ‘Justin Martin Sandoval’ featured on a before-and-after puzzle on the Wheel of Fortune.
I’d like to buy a vowel … Oh snap!
Visit stubhub.com to catch Martin (Justin) in action when Wyoming plays at Nevada and Oakdale grad Devin Combs on Oct. 6 or when he kicks off against Fresno State on Oct. 20. You can see Martin ‘Tarzan’ Sandoval fight in the main event of the Chicken Ranch card by visiting aowmma.com or by contacting Sandoval directly at 209 681-4405 (this column has more plugs than a surge protector).
There are no Martins on Oakdale or Sierra’s varsity football rosters, so you don’t have to worry about some cute transition between the last topic and this one.
Sierra does sport a junior lineman by the brilliant name of Ike Gutierrez, which nearly makes the Timberwolves a heavy favorite in Friday’s battle between Valley Oak League football juggernauts.
But if clever names won football games then the Oakland Raiders probably wouldn’t be so bad (ask Run DMC). It’s an awkward thing to have the conference championship game played on the first game of the year, but unless Sierra running back Anthony Cota suffers a 2011-like season-ending injury, it’s likely the case. No other VOL teams have a preseason that even compares with those of Oakdale and Sierra.
Manteca has lost twice and will probably lose to Sierra for the second time in four seasons. After two consecutive first-round exits from the postseason (including when they were the No. 1 seed in 2010), Manteca has much to prove before they will be regarded as a section power again. I’m not saying Manteca’s defense is soft, but after giving up 93 points in back-to-back losses, the Buffalo defense may just have signed a sponsorship with Snuggle (I hope this looks good on the locker room wall).
The section favorite role seems to have landed squarely on the likes of the Placer Hillmen (3-0), which may have eliminated Casa Roble (1-3) from playoff contention by blasting the 2010 and 2011 Sac-Joaquin Section semifinalists 63-21 last week. Since Casa Roble still has Folsom (4-0), Del Campo (2-2), Rio Linda (3-0), Bella Vista (3-1) and Christian Brothers (3-1) to play, their chances to see a third straight SJS semifinal are pretty slim. Placer, meanwhile, opened the season with an 18-point win over a Central Catholic team that bested St. Mary’s. Placer is ranked No. 1 in the NorCal Division II bowl rankings by ESPN’s calihisports.com. Oakdale is No. 5 in the same division while Central Catholic is an easy No. 1 for D-IV.
Oakdale carries an interesting history with Placer, who fell 7-6 to the Mustangs in a home mud-bowl game in the 2010 playoffs, but stunned Oakdale 27-14 on the road in the first round of the 2008 postseason.
If the two teams are to meet in 2012, it will likely come at the end of a long... hard walk.
Ike Dodson is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.