Trailing 20-8 in the first quarter of the CenCal Super Bowl, the Oakdale Stampede had plenty of opportunities to reflect on a strong season and graciously hand the Modesto Broncos the varsity youth football crown.
Or so the Broncos hoped.
Oakdale exploded for an 18-0 second quarter advantage and broke away from a fourth quarter deadlock to claim a 44-34 victory at Atwater High on Saturday night.
The win culminated a perfect 13-0 season and granted the Stampede its first ever CenCal Super Bowl victory at any level. Doing it on head coach Jason Rowe’s 40th birthday made it even more special for the program.
“It was a great season and it was an absolute pleasure for me to coach this group of kids,” Rowe said on Monday. “I wish them the best and it will be fun to watch them in high school.”
The Broncos tallied the game’s first score and quickly tallied extra trips into the end zone to combat a touchdown pass from Oakdale’s Isaac Moreno to Bobby DePuy.
Moreno later connected with DePuy on a second touchdown pass and saw Austin Manning, Adam Olson and Darus Nelson all reach the end zone on rushes. Olson broke open the fourth quarter tie with an 83-yard touchdown run after Oakdale was pinned deep in Stampede territory.
Manning nabbed a big first half interception that led to a touchdown and watched teammate Anthony Garcia corral a fourth-quarter interception to keep the ball out of Bronco hands. Broderick Medrano booted two-point conversions in the win.
The Broncos came out with a strong game plan to succeed against Oakdale’s defensive unit, but were outperformed late in the game, which saw four lead changes.
“It was going back and forth all night,” Rowe said. “It was a great game to watch, a little stressful to coach but a great football game. The best part about it is that when we were down the kids did not deflate and they fought back.”
The group will graduate most of their 32 players to join a quality group of players that qualified for the playoffs last year and played freshman football for Oakdale High this year.
“I coached the class that played freshman football at the high school and when the two teams get together as juniors and seniors they will be pretty special,” Rowe said.