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Mustangs Heartbroken In Quest For Footballs Blue Banner
Section Championship Game
Senior linebacker Junior Rodin attempts to slow down Mantecas Gino Campiotti in Friday nights Section title game at Lincoln High School in Stockton.Leader Photos By Dennis D. Cruz

The road to a second consecutive CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Championship for the Oakdale Mustangs hit a major road block this past Friday night. The top seeded Mustangs took on Valley Oak League rival Manteca in the 2017-2018 Division III Championship game at Lincoln High School in Stockton, and fell to the number two seed Buffaloes, 34-17.

It was a much different outcome from the team’s regular season meeting on Oct. 13, when Oakdale won 36-15 at The Corral. However, this was for the Section Championship, and Manteca leaped out to a 20-0 first quarter lead and did not allow the Mustangs to mount a comeback.

Manteca’s mobile quarterback Gino Campiotti displayed why he was one of the premier Valley Oak League quarterbacks. He finished the game 19-of-26 for 294 passing yards and tossed one interception. The senior also ran for 56 yards. In Manteca’s big first quarter, Campiotti found Jorge Cedano from 12 yards out with 5:52 remaining in the first quarter. Buffaloes receiver Kyle Rachels scored from 13 and 59 yards out to cap off the first quarter.

For the Mustangs, the scoring drought ended on a 27-yard field goal by kicker Nathan Richardson with 9:02 left in half. Cutting the deficit in half, senior quarterback Marc Dickson found fellow senior tight end Jace Krick from 17 yards out with just 34 seconds left in the first half to get back to within 20-10. Dickson finished the game completing seven-of-13 passes for 153 yards and one touchdown.

“This is tough, but this game, tonight, does not define our season and what we accomplished as a team,” Dickson said following the contest.

In the third quarter Oakdale brought the score within three points. A week ago Josh Jacobson set a single game rushing record for the school when he erupted for 359 yards and scored five touchdowns in the process. However, the Buffaloes bottled up the Mustangs backfield to hold them to under 200 total yards. Jacobson did rush for a team high 76 yards on a dozen carries and scored the team’s final points on a three yard rush with 10:15 left in the third quarter. That score got the Mustangs to a 20-17 deficit but they would not get back in the end zone again the rest of the way.

Senior running back Cameron Cherry entered the game with over 2,000 yards rushing and 27 rushing touchdowns. Friday night Cherry was held to just 30 yards rushing on 13 carries.

“Manteca’s defensive line has big bodies and gave us problems tonight,” said Coach Trent Merzon.

Manteca scored a touchdown with eight seconds left in the third quarter to go up 27-17. Manteca put the final touches on the game with a 23-yard touchdown strike from Campiotti to Rachels with 3:31 left to play.

Oakdale’s defense gave a valiant effort in the contest. Makai Harris had a big interception in the end zone in the third quarter, Zac Campbell blocked a point after touchdown attempt, and Junior Rodin had two sacks on the night. The big difference in the game was Manteca’s ability to convert in crucial situations. Manteca successfully converted three fourth down conversions.

Although the season came to a close without a Section Championship, 2017 will go down as a memorable one for the Mustangs and their fans. The team began their season with a 47-13 road win over the Sonora Wildcats in August. Oakdale ran the table in the Valley Oak League; including a dramatic come-from-behind road win over the Central Catholic Raiders 27-21 to win the Valley Oak League title.