The football community filed into the Oakdale High School main gym on Sunday night, Jan. 15 for the annual Mustangs football awards ceremony. With the stands (and doorways) packed with spectators and players from all three levels of Mustang football, varsity head coach Trent Merzon and his coaching staff honored the State’s Division 3A Champions, along with the junior varsity and freshman players who took part in a memorable season.
Coach Merzon, head coach of the Mustangs for 17 seasons, thanked everyone in attendance for their endless support of all levels of play.
“It is a total community effort. Not just Friday nights in The Corral, but how well the community travels to our games,” Merzon noted. “I want to thank those who made the trip down south for our State title run, and the parents who helped with travel, food and hotels.”
Four freshman awards were handed out to begin the ceremony. Filling in for head coach Rod Long was assistant coach Chris Lawrence. Four awards were presented to the freshman class. Cameron Snow and Payton Bradford were named co-Defensive Players of the Year, Dominque Marenco earned Outstanding Offensive Lineman and Leo Ayala took home Outstanding Running Back Award.
JV Coach Matt Miranda and his staff handed out five awards on the night. Co-Defensive Players of the Year went to Cameron Olsen and Caleb Kuppens, Offensive Player of the Year went to Oscar Ramos, Offensive Lineman of the Year was awarded to Eric DeGraff, Most Improved Wyatt Waterworth and Hayden Knittle won the Mustang Award.
Coach Merzon returned front and center to give out the awards to the varsity team. The team also got sized for their CIF State Championship rings and took home their State Championship medals.
Merzon explained the meaning behind the “OKG” seen on the back of their team helmets this season.
“OKG means Oakdale Kinda Guy or Oakdale Kinda Gal. Anyone can become an OKG. It means that you are loyal and can overcome adversity,” Merzon said. “You don’t have to be born and raised in Oakdale to be an OKG; it is for anyone who carries themselves in that kind of lifestyle.”
Ten awards were given out at the varsity level. Merzon said that each award is voted on by the players. The Mike Donnelly Scout Team Award went to Austin Pol, Jacob Tietjen earned the Bob Heberer Most Improved Award, Bronson Harmon earned the Most Inspiring Player Award. Offensive lineman Nico Serale and Brandon Vierra took home the Mike Hogwood Best Lineman Award, Cameron Cherry won the Mike Arpoika Outstanding Back Award, Josh Jacobson won the Larry Bird Most Dedicated Award and Sean Gingerich took home the Jim Cook Character Award. Also, Zac Thomas and Jace Krick were named Co-Outstanding Defensive Players of the Year and Will Semone was named Most Valuable Player.