Two teams: one goal, one championship. Friday night Nov. 3 the Oakdale Mustangs went into Central Catholic to do battle for Valley Oak League supremacy. When the dust settled it was the Mustangs coming out on top and the team rode the bus home as the 2017 Valley Oak League champions after winning 27-21.
Oakdale trailed for a total of 47 minutes and 39 seconds of the iconic battle. Central Catholic leaped out to a 7-0 lead on a 50-yard catch and run by Dauson Booker early in the first quarter. The Raiders doubled their lead to 14-0 with three seconds left in the first on a Coleby Garrett 25-yard rush. Oakdale found themselves in an unfamiliar situation: scoreless after 12 minutes of play.
The Mustangs responded with the lone score of the second quarter on a Josh Jacobson two-yard rushing touchdown with 10:25 left in the second quarter. The two powerhouse programs each scored a touchdown in the third quarter with Central Catholic scoring on a Kyle Jacklich 19-yard catch to give the Raiders a 21-7 lead with 7:53 left in the third. Cameron Cherry brought the Mustangs within seven on a 44-yard touchdown with 5:11 to go in the third.
The fourth quarter belonged to the visitors as the Mustangs scored on a Marc Dickson keeper from one yard out to tie the game with 7:42 left to play. Central Catholic’s starting quarterback Kyle Jackson went down with a scary knee injury midway through the first half and was replaced by senior Theo Azevedo.
Azevedo finished the game with four passes for 47 yards and threw two interceptions. In the fourth quarter Azevedo threw a pass that was intercepted by Bronson Harmon, who returned it to the Central Catholic 37 with 2:13 left to play. Dickson then found a wide open Hunter Falconi in the end zone with 47 seconds left to play but the score was negated by a Mustang holding penalty. Two plays later on fourth and seven from the Raider 44, Cherry exploded past the Raiders defensive line and burned their secondary for a 44-yard touchdown with 21 seconds left to play, giving Oakdale a 27-21 lead. The game came to a close with Caleb Kuppens intercepting a Central Catholic pass with seven seconds left in the game.
“It was a long, crazy battle. We fought, they fought but at the end we came away with the W,” Cherry said following the game.
Cherry finished the evening with 197 yards rushing while his backfield teammate Harmon racked up 137 yards rushing on just eight attempts but had an even bigger impact on the defensive side of the ball with his two interceptions.
“We believe in each other. We were down but never had any doubt that we would win this game,” Harmon said. “As great as it is to win the VOL at home, I think it was better winning it here. We came into their kingdom and took over. This is our land now.”
Opening up lanes for the Mustang backfield and keeping Dickson upright throughout the night was the offensive line. The talented line overpowered the Raider defensive line throughout the night.
“I really couldn’t control my emotions. This was an intense battle. Every minute was intense. It was an honor to play this game, and we did it for everyone who loves Mustangs football,” center Jorge Barajas said.
Oakdale’s defense bent, but never broke. The team fell behind early but came away with four turnovers, and four sacks. Junior Rodin, Corey Hinojosa and Levi Ichord all recorded sacks.
The JV team finished their season on the road Friday night at David Patton Field at Central Catholic. The Raiders roughed up the Mustangs 48-0 in the finale. With the loss, Oakdale finished the Valley Oak League season with a 7-3 record.
The Oakdale Mustangs won their 13th Valley Oak League title in the last 16 years this past Friday night, Nov. 4. Their impressive season has landed them the number one seed in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff bracket.
This Thursday night, Nov. 9 the Mustangs will host the No. 16 seed McNair Eagles of Stockton. The Eagles finished with a 5-5 overall record and a 3-2 record in the San Joaquin Athletic Association. The team finished second in their league. McNair is coming off a 35-28 road loss to Bear Creek. Last year Oakdale defeated McNair in the playoffs 49-0 to open up their CIF State Championship run.