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Mustangs Take Down Merced To Win Football Finale
ayala rush
Eyes on the field ahead, Yahir Ayala, 28, tucks the ball in and picks up some yardage during the April 16 contest against Merced at The Corral. Photo By Jeff Kettering
Dion Suarez, 5, hauls in the pass from quarterback Jackson Holt in the season finale on Friday night at The Corral. Oakdale defeated Merced in the contest. Photo By Jeff Kettering

The end of a very unorthodox season has arrived. Oakdale High School’s varsity football team concluded its season with a 35-14 home win over Merced on April 16. As if the 2021 season was not bizarre enough, Oakdale got word Thursday that their original opponent (Ripon) could not make the trip, leaving the Mustangs Friday night game in doubt.

“It came at us so fast, by the time everything got finalized between us and Merced it was about eight hours to prepare. You’re not going to have a game plan against the Mustangs in eight hours, I promise you that. Merced is very talented, we played them twice in the post season in recent years; but this year is very different times for all of us,” said Mustangs head coach Trent Merzon.

In the first quarter Oakdale got off to a 7-0 advantage on a Kevin Camelin rushing touchdown from seven yards out. Camelin finished the game with six rushes for 18 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a ball for seven yards and serves as the team’s kicker where he made all four of his point-after-touchdown attempts.

Yahir Ayala started the second quarter off with a bang as he rushed from 54 yards to pay dirt for a 14-0 Oakdale lead. Ayala finished the night with 115 rushing yards. Merced countered with a long touchdown reception to cut the lead in half in the second quarter. Shortly before halftime Oakdale’s Zeke Saffar broke off a 39-yard rushing touchdown to give Oakdale a 21-7 advantage, a lead they would take into halftime. Saffar finished the night with 11 carries for 75 yards.

The two teams exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter. Oakdale scored first on a 24-yard reception by Dion Suarez from Jackson Holt. Suarez finished with 14 yards rushing and his receiving touchdown. Holt went 5-for-8 for 61 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Merced’s touchdown also came from a pass play. The final touchdown of the night came from Logan Lourenco with just five seconds left in the game as Lourenco scored from two yards out.

“I am proud of all the players that suited up this year. It takes a great deal of sacrifice to play Mustangs football, but more so this year,” Merzon stated.

Defensively Oakdale found a way to get to the Merced quarterback. Oakdale recorded four sacks on the night. Conner Bok, Brandon Jefferey, Dillon Thompson and Mason Gilton all got to the quarterback. Nico Villegas intercepted the ball for the Mustangs late in the fourth quarter to help lead the team to a win.