What a way to celebrate Senior Night.
Oakdale scored six touchdowns in the first half and another two in the third before pulling the brakes and several starters in the fourth, rolling big over the visiting 1-8 Lathrop Spartans, 56-21, to the delight of a large crowd at The Corral on Nov. 1.
“This was a great team win,” sophomore Darus Nelson, who had three touchdowns, said. “Overall a great team victory.”
Host Oakdale hit Lathrop hard and in a first half hurry – putting up 21 points in each quarter. Nelson nearly broke around the right corner twice for long runs early on, before finally shaking loose for a 45 yarder punt return for his third touchdown in the third quarter. A busy Brock Whiting was running just as furiously to the left sideline, stretching the Lancers secondary on several large gains and adding a 25 touchdown pass from senior Dillon Tamburrino to put the Mustangs up 56-14 at the end of the third.
On the defensive side against Lathrop, gifts and game balls went to Landon Ichord who had an interception, senior linebacker Brynden McAndrews who had a fumble recovery just in bounds, but the senior who really set off the crowd was Kyle Osborne, who took a pick six and rumbled into the end zone with a buddy’s list of blockers, jacking the score to 28-7 and the rout was on, full-tilt 42-7 by halftime.
Tamburrino ran the offense through Whiting, Nelson and Max Stevens, who all crossed the goal line during the game, sophomore Lane Trapp converted all his PAT’s, and with 12 minutes left Mustang head coach Trent Merzon was smiling with his son and the majority of his seniors on the sideline, refreshed and ready for their most ambiguous road trip yet.
Oakdale’s postseason is likely on the line against Sonora, the ride up the hill to the century long rivals at historic Dunlavy Field coming just in time for a sixth win that would put the Mustangs in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs and a possible intriguing playoff matchup against the undefeated Patterson Tigers, who will finish the season at 8-1 Central Catholic on Friday to determine the champion of the Western Athletic Conference. But the Wildcats come first and foremost if the Mustangs want to play past Friday.
Sonora, after starting the season 0-5 with close defeats to Turlock and Calaveras and being routed by Sierra and Manteca, have gotten fat off wins of Valley Oak League cellar dwellers East Union, Weston Ranch, Lathrop and a 21-20 home win last week against Kimball that came down to the fourth quarter and a failed 2-point conversion by the Jaguars.
The Wildcats improved to 4-2 in the VOL and have hope for an overall .500 season and a spoiler to their rival’s playoff chances. Sonora averages 40 yards passing a night and is not much of a threat in the air, but 5-10, 160 pound junior quarterback Zach Atwood is good for 11 points a game and had three touchdowns on East Union and four against Weston Ranch. Offensively Sonora is led by 6-0, 190 pound K.C. Brandsted, who averages 107 yards rushing per game and doubles up at middle linebacker. The senior is nearing 800 yards on the season entering the last game of his career against the Mustangs.
The Mustangs, meanwhile, have gotten through a rough preseason and rocky VOL stretch to rebound and go into the regular season finale at 5-4. After their offensive outburst and senior celebration against Lathrop that were reminiscent of one of the Mustangs home playoff routs last year, the squad seems ready for their rivals and hopefully hit the road for the playoffs from there.
Mustang seniors playing the last home games of their career were Tanner Morgan, Dillon Tamburrino, Bailey Dryden, Chase Higgs, Kyle Osborne, Garrett Brewer, Tyler Williams, Justin Muncill, Milton Obispo, Brynden McAndrews, Taylor MacHutta, Mitchell Molletta, Erik Ruiz and Kyle Peterson.