The defending California Interscholastic Federation Division 7A champion Balboa Buccaneers invaded the Oakdale Corral on Friday, Sept. 9 and faced off against an Oakdale Mustang team that had something to prove following its loss two weeks earlier to the Aptos Mariners. The Buccaneers touted a massive front line complemented by speedy backs and ends; but those characteristics proved to be of no apparent consequence as the Mustangs unloaded for a 55-0 win, punctuated by a running clock throughout the entire second half of the game.
“Our kids responded tremendously (to the Aptos loss),” said head coach Trent Merzon. “We had our best week of practice during the bye week. We did what men do and we cranked things up. (Tonight) our kids played tremendously in all facets of the game.”
The Mustang effort was indeed tremendous as the offense amassed 369 total yards (321 rushing, 48 passing) while the defense limited Balboa to -34 yards total offense (-44 rushing, 10 passing).
The Mustangs struck fast and hard as if on a mission of redemption. After limiting Balboa to -3 yards on its first possession, the Mustangs marched 65 yards on four plays with senior Jace Rau (three carries for 33 yards) racing 23 yards for the first score of the game. During the drive, junior Cameron Guthrie ripped off carries of 17 and 19 yards. Guthrie would finish the evening with a game high 130 yards on seven carries and a touchdown, including a 47-yard run as time ran out in the first quarter.
Like every good running back, Guthrie complemented his line after the game: “They are the best,” said the junior. The starting front line of center Rawlin Hixon, guards Gavin Gleason and Charlie Kjeldgaard, and tackles Zander Espinoza and Matthew Leonard created large holes in the massive Balboa defensive alignment. Complementing Rau and Guthrie were quarterback Mick Merzon (35 yards on five carries), Gabe McDonald (25 yards on five carries with a touchdown), Garrison Gerber, just back from an injury (one carry for 6 yards and a touchdown), Alex Jones (four carries, 17 yards and a touchdown), Kayden Anderson (63 yards on five carries), and Angel DeAnda (12 yards on one carry for a touchdown.) Complementing the running game, Mick Merzon completed one pass in four attempts: a 48-yard touchdown strike to Mason Ahm as time ran down in the first half.
The defense emerged as the proverbial immovable object, not just snuffing out everything Balboa tried, but also causing numerous mistakes by the visitors, some apparently by pure intimidation, including three snaps well over the Buccaneer quarterback’s head. Defensive back Mauricio Pena recorded his second interception in two games by garnering a pick-6 touchdown reception with 2 minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Using hard-hitting, gang tackling, the Mustangs dominated the much larger Buccaneers, who, incredibly, recorded -44 yards rushing throughout the game.
“We are a different type of creature than what they are used to seeing,” said Merzon. “This is Valley football. We take tremendous pride in our Valley; not just in our community but in our Valley.”
In the JV preliminary game, the Mustang Colts of head coach Matt Miranda dominated Balboa 49-0, amassing 310 yards of total offense, compared to 15 yards for the visitors, in recording their third consecutive shutout victory of the season.
The Colt offense rushed for 287 yards and had 23 yards passing. Chase Lopez led the Colts, recording 102 yards rushing on four carries and a touchdown. Included in Lopez’s amazing evening were runs of 43, 20 and 27 yards. Also getting in to the mix were Andre Galaviz (73 yards on five carries), Wes Burford (18 yards on four carries), Ricky Torres (32 yards on three carries and a touchdown), Sonny Torres (43 yards on two carries), Zachary Gerner (10 yards on one carry for a touchdown), and Bowen Lee (one carry for 6 yards). Quarterback Tyler Stroup engineered the offensive explosion while having a quiet evening himself, going 1-for-2 for 23 yards passing and rushing for three yards.
Defensively, the Colts were led by Rowdy Sphar and Jackson Gilton, while Cooper Bartholomew recovered a fumble, which would lead to a first half score. As it was in the varsity game, the officials invoked a running clock throughout the entire second half.
The Mustangs and Colts will take their Valley brand of football to the East Bay city of Orinda on Friday, Sept. 16 as they will take on Matadors of Miramonte High School. The Matador varsity is currently 3-0 having defeated Skyline High School 21-10 on Sept. 9. As a basis of comparison, Skyline had defeated Balboa 31-7 the week prior to the Buccaneers meeting the Mustangs. The Miramonte JV team is currently 2-0 having overwhelmed Skyline (a 46-0 victor over Balboa) 44-0 on Sept. 9. The JV kickoff is slated for 4:30 p.m. in Orinda while the varsity kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.