It’s common knowledge.
Oakdale High football coaches know it.
American Canyon coaches know it.
To stop the 11-1 Wolves and champions of the Solano County Athletic Conference, you must first stop 6-foot, 1-inch 180-pound running back Jomon Dotson.
Oakdale (11-1) will eyeball Dotson inside American Canyon’s veer formation when the Mustangs play host to the Wolves at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 23 at The Corral. The winner advances to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III finals.
“Obviously we are going to have our hands full,” Oakdale coach Trent Merzon said of the contest. “It’s going to be one of those games, Thanksgiving weekend in The Corral.”
Dotson erupted for over 100 yards in 15 of his last 16 appearances, sports the 11th most rushing yards in the state (according to maxpreps.com), and has eclipsed the legendary totals of Sierra’s Anthony Cota, Escalon’s Nathan Chunn and Orestimba’s Steven Machado this year.
Dotson ran for over 140 yards in every game of 2012, plowed past the 200-yard mark on four occasions and has amassed 2,087 yards and 24 scores for a three-year program competing incredibly in just its first season with seniors.
Inexperience did little to bother the Wolves as they won five consecutive games by a 233-51 margin to open the year. The team was stunned in a 33-28 loss to Vallejo (3-7) on Oct. 5, but rebounded with a 33-3 win over Division II playoff qualifier, Bethel, the following week.
American Canyon beat Benicia to clinch the SCAC title and opened the postseason with a 37-8 win over River Valley. The fourth seed Wolves bested No. 5 seed Cosumnes Oaks in an exciting 28-20 quarterfinal last week, despite a season low in yards (141) from their star runner.
Cosumnes Oaks didn’t surrender a score to Dotson, but allowed American Canyon quarterback Michael Rapacon to escape for a season high 143 rushing yards. With the Wolfpack glued to Dotson’s every move, Rapacon broke loose for an average of over 20 yards a carry (seven rushes).
“I knew that was going to happen, all the highlights are focused on (Dotson),” Rapacon told the Vallejo Times Herald. “Our veer is focused on the run and that’s what I focused on today.”
Oakdale won’t ignore Rapacon, but will certainly be mindful of Dotson’s potential to turn any play into a long touchdown scamper. Dotson has runs of 88, 82, 73, 67, 64, 54, 51, 50 and 45 yards this year. He was named the SCAC back of the year.
American Canyon receiver/defensive back Chris Seisay (6-2, 185) was named the SCAC defensive player of the year as well. Seisay returned a fumble 96 yards for a touchdown in what was ultimately the game winning score against Cosumnes Oaks. Siesay has made a verbal commitment to the University of Oregon.
Siesay is a dangerous return man and defender, and he leads the Wolves with 499 receiving yards. He’s one of only two American receivers with substantial yards on an offense that appears a bit one-dimensional on paper (4,007 rushing yards, 989 passing yards).
Rapacon failed to complete any of his seven passes against Cosumnes Oaks. No defense would consider the task of stopping Dotson a ‘good matchup’, but Oakdale has been tough against the run all season.
The Mustangs held Sierra’s Cota (1,973 yards, 41 touchdowns) to just 47 yards and no scores on the ground to open Valley Oak League play in what was ultimately the VOL title game. Sierra fell 69-47 to Inderkum in a slugfest of a D-III quarterfinal on Friday. Since Vista del Lago scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to escape the clutches of No. 7 seed El Camino, Vista will host Inderkum in the other D-III semifinal this week.
The semifinal winners will meet on Nov. 30 or Dec. 1 in the Division III finals. Section officials have indicated that a win by Oakdale has a strong possibility of sending the D-III finals to Lincoln of Stockton. Oakdale played in the section title game at Sacramento State University in 2010 and 2011, allowing victor, Del Oro, near home-field advantage and a short trip from nearby Loomis.
Del Oro is now in Division II, and upset No. 2 seed Yuba City and No. 7 seed St. Mary’s in back-to-back weeks to reach the D-II semifinals.
The score of their latest victory, along with other enthralling contests across the section playoffs was broadcast by Oakdale announcer Pete Simoncini as Oakdale huddled at their south end zone after the win over Benicia on Nov. 16.
Oakdale coach Trent Merzon paused to hear the scores with his players before delivering his final words to the team.
“That was awesome, it was like watching the news,” Merzon said afterwards. “We are just fortunate to be able to play this time of year.
“There are not many teams left in the entire section, and we are one of them.”