In front of approximately 6,000 fans at The Corral for the 2016 regular season finale against nemesis Central Catholic on Friday night, Nov. 4, the Mustangs gave the home crowd exactly what they wanted – a win.
There was a lot at stake, including a share of the Valley Oak League crown. Coach Trent Merzon, his staff and the team joined together and in front of the large and rowdy crowd, walked out with a 34-21 win over the Raiders.
“We were the underdogs, and so was David when he went against Goliath and we all know how that story finished;” Oakdale’s Will Semone said following the victory.
One of the night’s many storylines surrounded Semone, who took on his former team for the first time. Semone lined up against his friends and former teammates and attacked them like he has everyone else this season as he racked up over 100 yards and scored two touchdowns in the win.
“Bag of emotions today, all day until the whistle blew. But once kickoff came, it was business time,” Semone said of the hours leading up to the game.
The Mustangs (8-2, 6-1) never trailed in the game and scored the first points on a Bronson Harmon 36-yard run with 1:05 remaining in the first quarter. Central Catholic tied the game with 8:50 remaining in the half on a Jared Rice 86-yard rush. Rice later went down with what appeared to be a knee injury in the second half. Oakdale and Central Catholic went into the break tied at 7-7.
Oakdale found the end zone twice in the third quarter, once on Harmon’s 10-yard run for his second score of the night, and Semone got the crowd on its feet when he bolted down the sideline on a 62-yard run to give Oakdale a 21-7 advantage with 8:36 remaining in the third quarter. The Raiders trimmed the lead with a Montell Bland one yard dive with 3:33 left in the third.
In the fourth quarter Oakdale found the end zone two more times to build up a 34-14 lead late after a 26-yard catch and run connection from quarterback Marc Dickson to Cullen Bearden, and Semone’s 13-yard run into the end zone with 8:52 left to play. Central tacked on one final score as well for the final 34-21 score.
“This win is unbelievable. I am so proud of our kids,” said an ecstatic Merzon following the victory. “They made plays, on all sides of the ball. This was a big win.”
Oakdale’s defense gave the Raiders’ high-powered offense fits all night as Cullen Bearden, Jace Krick, Matt Kjeldgaard, Levi Ichord, Zac Campbell and Joshua Jacobson all applied pressure and forced three turnovers in the game, including a fourth quarter interception by Jacobson.
“We were preparing hard this week, all week. We watched film on them, we watched our film from last week against Manteca and corrected the things we needed to work on,” said Jacobson. “Our mindset was ‘Hey this is Central (Catholic) and we need to bring it.’ This is our final regular season game, and we knew we had to win it.”
Oakdale’s season came to a close this past Friday night following a 34-14 home loss to the Central Catholic Raiders. Central Catholic outscored Oakdale 27-0 in the second half to cruise to the win. Oakdale finished the season with a 4-3 league record.
It was a successful first year for head coach Rod Long and the Ponies. Although the team lost 38-13 on the road to the Raiders on Thursday, the squad finished with a winning league record of 3-2.
SENIOR NIGHT 2016
During halftime of the junior varsity game, 19 Mustangs were honored alongside their family members, coaches and friends. Oakdale’s seniors are Will Semone, Zac Thomas, Sean Gingerich, Jacob Peterson, Ty Fuentes, Collin Harrity, Joseph Lutz, Cullen Bearden, Josh Oliver, Ray Gerdes, Dallon Barfield, Sam Healey, Wes Leijten, Austin Pol, Brandon Vierra, Jacob Tietjen, Michael Everett, Emmett Niemi and Luke Ibarra.
At halftime of the varsity game, fans showed their appreciation to the 14 members of the cheerleading squad as well. Senior members of the team include Kendall Vargas, McKenna Hager, TJ Verdegaal, Lisa Barrientos, Shala Machado, Marissa Bradley, Emily Stepp, Haley Walker, Lexi Sibley, Madison Marler, Deonna Osmundson, Sophie Hill, Sophia Marin and Maddie Abell.