On the final night of the 2014 regular season, it was a massive, standing room only crowd that gathered at The Corral to see the Mustangs honor the 25 seniors playing in their final home league game, as well as playing for a share of the Valley Oak League title. Oakdale welcomed Central Catholic, and what appeared to be close a thousand of their fans Friday night, Nov. 7. However, it was the home crowd that had the final roar as they watched their Mustangs thrive in a 48-28 victory.
Fans from both sides filled the bleachers and managed to squeeze together in standing room only to be a part of the inaugural showdown between the Mustangs and first year members of the VOL, the Central Catholic Raiders.
For those in attendance, they could tell the importance of the evening just by hearing the excitement from the ‘Voice of the Mustangs’ Pete Simoncini, as he announced the play by play.
Central Catholic jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, but Oakdale leaned on their speedy running back, junior Darus Nelson who ran the ball for a 50-yard touchdown to even the score with 5:25 left in the opening quarter. Without batting an eye, the Raiders regained the lead on an 80-yard rushing touchdown from junior Justin Rice.
Down 14-7, Oakdale head coach Trent Merzon and his veteran coaching staff took a collective breath, and coached the Mustangs one play at a time. An interception by Oakdale’s Tyler Flores deep into Raider territory set up a five play, 19-yard drive capped off by a 1-yard touchdown plunge by senior Frankie Trent with three seconds left in the first quarter. Trent finished the evening with 28 carries, 119 yards and two touchdowns.
“What a great experience this evening, and the season has been. We worked hard during practice and focused on this game,” commented Trent about the emotional night.
Oakdale built off that momentum and shut out the visitors 21-0 in the second quarter, highlighted by a 13-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Adam Olsen to Bobby Depuy with 23 seconds left in the half to take a 35-14 lead into the locker room.
“I think I had a better week of practice this week, and that helped me with my control of the ball tonight,” shared Olsen of running the offense well.
The Raiders outscored the Mustangs 14-13 in the second half, but it was too little, too late for Central Catholic, and Oakdale punched their ticket to the 2014 CIF Section Playoffs as well as forging a tie for first place in league.
“That was a good win, I’m very proud of our kids and the seniors as they won a share of the VOL title, they haven’t won one up to tonight and it is very special that they got it in front of the community that supports them, and to do it on senior night, makes it that much more special,” said coach Merzon.
The Mustangs finished the regular season with an overall record of 9-1 and a league record of 6-1. Oakdale earned the three seed in the Division III bracket beginning this Friday night as the Mustangs welcome the 14th seeded Pacheco Panthers (7-3, 5-1) of Los Banos. Kickoff for the playoff game is at 7 p.m.