Setting the stage, fans entering The Corral at Oakdale High School on Friday night – whether they were hometown supporters or came down the hill for the contest – all saw the sign.
“It is not just a game, it is tradition” was the message fans saw when entering The Corral. Friday night was the 99th meeting between Oakdale and Sonora, where Oakdale declawed the Wildcats 41-15 in the first preseason game of the 2015 campaign.
“Sonora is a great football team, and this has been a rivalry for close to a hundred years. I’m just honored to be a part of it,” said Mustangs starting quarterback Adam Olsen.
After a rough start by both offenses, the Mustangs found their groove late in the first quarter when running back Brad Aquino plowed his way through the Wildcats defensive line for a 13-yard rushing touchdown with 1:13 left in the quarter. Oakdale’s defense made key plays in the first half of play including forcing a pair of three and outs by the Wildcats in Mustang territory.
Olsen and tight end Gregory Hickman were in midseason form as the pair hooked up six times for 88 yards, including a touchdown connection from 27 yards out to expand the Mustangs lead to 14-0 with 5:58 left in the first half.
“I was very confident in our offense and defense today. We all worked hard during the off season, and today we all grinded it out. The goal was to get in the end zone and we found it tonight,” commented Hickman.
The tight end continued to impress before halftime when the Mustangs pulled off a flea flicker that featured Logan Hall completing a 27-yard touchdown throw to Hickman with 31 seconds remaining in the first half to give Oakdale a 21-0 lead at the break.
Oakdale’s offensive power continued to give the Wildcats defense fits as the Mustangs opened the second half on a two-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off by a 71 yard rushing touchdown by running back Austin Burke to give Oakdale a commanding 28-0 lead just 46 seconds into the second half. Oakdale found the end zone once more in the third quarter as running back Vincent Albertoni displayed goods hands when he brought in a 37-yard touchdown catch thrown by Olsen with 3:22 left in the third quarter. Albertoni finished the day with six carries for 17 yards on top of his 37 yard touchdown catch.
Sonora got on the board after a 34-yard touchdown strike and a successful two point conversion late in the third quarter to make it 34-8 with less than three minutes to play.
The Mustangs put things away with a 73 yard touchdown catch and run as Hall put the burners on when he sprinted down the right sidelines out running everyone for the score, giving Oakdale a 41-8 lead with 7:47 remaining in the game.
The Wildcats scored their final touchdown with 5:03 remaining in the game.
“Heading into tonight we knew that we (defense) needed to step up. Sonora’s offense can give any team troubles. I think we did a great job containing them,” shared safety Robby Bagley. “We will have to work on some things over the next week to limit big plays and penalties, but Coach will have us ready.”
Oakdale will host Turlock at The Corral on Friday night, Sept. 4 with kickoff following the conclusion of the junior varsity game.
“We were good on both sides of the ball tonight. We need to clean up a few things, penalties and turnovers. Our O-Line played great tonight, which opened things up for our backfield and our passing game. The defense shined tonight too,” said head coach Trent Merzon.
The night got off to a great start for Oakdale fans, as the junior varsity Mustang Colts shut out Sonora 28-0. Quarterback Marc Dickson connected with wide receiver Cameron Cherry on a 72 yard catch and run for a touchdown with 8:53 remaining in the game to give Oakdale a 21-0 lead late in the fourth quarter. Dickson capped the night off with a two yard rushing touchdown with 2:06 left in the game.
The young Mustangs traveled up the hill Thursday night to take on Sonora. Oakdale, which went undefeated last year, fell to Sonora 30-16. Oakdale looks to regroup when they return home on Thursday, Sept. 3 to welcome Turlock.