As it has for the last handful of years, Martin Luther King Jr. Day saw the hosting of the Oakdale High School Mustang football awards ceremony. Players and coaches from all three levels, along with a few hundred fans and proud parents, gathered in the school’s main gym to honor the effort and success of the past season.
Head varsity coach Trent Merzon began the evening by thanking not only his staff, but also showing his appreciation to the community for their endless support during the season. Shortly after, Merzon got down to business and handed out the first award. Normally the freshman team is honored first, but this year the ceremony had a few changes, as they honored the All-Valley Oak League (VOL) team members and also gave out some of the awards to the varsity team first.
Oakdale had 11 All-VOL members: Austin Burke, Lane Trapp, Robby Bagley, Greg Hickman, Adam Olsen, Cullen Bearden, Brad Aquino, Louis Marsella, Zac Cordoza, Alex Pena and Matt Kjeldgaard were all recognized by the league as standout players.
Brad Aquino set two school records, as the senior rushed for 1,882 yards and scored 37 touchdowns in 2015. Aquino was named the 2015 team Most Valuable Player. Offensive Line coach Zack Quaccia stepped forward and presented senior Alex Pena with the Jim Gilbert Team Captain Award. The varsity team awards continued when Merzon presented quarterback Adam Olsen with the Larry Bird Most Dedicated Award. Under center, Olsen accumulated 46 wins as a starter during his high school career.
Rounding out the varsity award recipients were: senior Manuel Ayala (Mike Donnelly Scout Team), senior Eric Jackson (Jim Cook Character), senior Zac Cordoza (Mike Hogwood Best Lineman) senior Louis Marsella (Defensive Lineman), senior Erik Helms (Bob Heberer Most Improved), senior Lane Trapp (Most Inspirational), senior Austin Burke (Miko Arpoika Outstanding Back) and senior Robby Bagley (Outstanding Defense).
Adding a new element to the ceremony, 10 Mustangs were honored with Hat Awards, which were given to varsity players for their efforts both on and off the field as well as their leadership during the season. Those winners were: senior Ben Solario, junior Jacob Tietjen, sophomore Nico Serale, senior Logan Hall, junior Zac Thomas, senior Ryan Raham, senior Justin Jacobson, senior Darus Nelson, senior Greg Hickman and junior Jacob Peterson.
Players from the junior varsity Mustang Colts team also took home four awards. Head Coach Matt Miranda and his staff honored four of the team’s standouts. Corey Hinojosa and Josh Jacobson were named Co-Mustang Award recipients. Josh Johnston was named Defensive Player of the Year, and Levi Ichord took home the Offensive Lineman of the Year Award.
The freshman Mustangs, known as the Ponies, were also in attendance and earned hardware of their own. Head Coach Steve Jericoff and his staff presented four players with awards. Cameron Olsen was the big winner of the evening as he claimed Best Defense and Team Captain awards. A.J. Martinez was named Best Back and Eric DeGraff was named Best Lineman for the freshman team.