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Freshman Football Squad Finishes Season At 10-0
Zeke Saffar racked up 357 rushing yards and scored six touchdowns for Oakdale on Thursday night to help the Ponies go 10-0 on the season. - photo by DENNIS D. CRUZ/THE LEADER

For coach Rod Long, he could not ask for a better season for his freshman team.

The Oakdale Mustang Ponies stood tall against all comers in 2017, including Central Catholic in the finale. This past Thursday night the Ponies hosted the Raiders in a game to decide the Valley Oak League championship and the Ponies piled it on over the Raiders, 47-13.

Ponies running back Zeke Saffar followed the blockers’ lead and the stout offensive line and rambled for a total of 359 yards and scored six touchdowns against the Raiders. Saffar scored from 70, 61, 47, 26, 24 and 15 yards out to help power the Ponies to a 10-0 record this year.

“The offensive line did a great job tonight. We knew what opportunity was before us tonight,” Saffar said of the team. “Coach Long is amazing. He got us ready for battle each week. Champions are made during practice and his practices prepared us for Thursday nights. He is a great coach and a great man.”

It did not take the Ponies long to find the end zone; just 1:16 into the contest and three plays, to be exact. On the third play from scrimmage, quarterback Jason Rawe handed the ball off to Saffar and the elusive back sprinted down the field 70 yards for the score to make it 7-0 Oakdale with 8:44 remaining in the first quarter. The next drive Saffar cashed in on a 61-yard touchdown to give Oakdale a 13-0 lead with 4:20 left in the first quarter.

Central Catholic answered with a 63-yard touchdown of their own on a Tyler Van Dyke to Jack Grisel catch and run to trim the lead down to 13-7.

Oakdale’s rushing attack, however, also featured Donovan Walker. He had a total of 77 rushing yards and scored a touchdown from five yards out with 21 seconds left in the first quarter to go up 20-7.

Oakdale expanded their lead to 33-7 in the second quarter on a pair of Saffar touchdowns, scoring from 47 and 26 yards out in the second quarter. In the third quarter Saffar scored his fifth touchdown on a 24-yard run to go up 40-7. Central Catholic scored on a Van Dyke to Grisel connection from 26 yards out with 33 seconds left in the third quarter. The final score of the game came from Saffar with 7:42 left to play. Saffar’s touchdown came from 15 yards out.

As impressive as the Ponies offense was, the defense made a huge statement early and kept up the intensity throughout the game. Rylan Kerr made two key stops on fourth down and had an interception in the first half. Zachary Aloisio had a blocked PAT and sacked Van Dyke twice in the game. Gannon Davis, Steven Graff and Brandon Jeffery delivered heavy hits and applied pressure on Van Dyke.

“This is a real special group. They played very unselfish football from day one,” Coach Long said of his players. “A lot of these guys played positions that they never played before. They all played great this season.”


With 60 plus players on the team, assisting Coach Long were Chris Lawrence (Defensive Coordinator), Ty Malone (Lines Coach), Justin Martin (Linebackers, Wider Receivers and Kickers Coach), and James Simmons (Defensive Backs Coach).