Friday’s forecast called for a serious chance of unrelenting showers at The Corral as Oakdale High played host to Pacheco in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III football playoffs.
It didn’t rain, but it sure did pour.
Oakdale flooded the end zone for 49 first-half points, landing a 14-point downpour in the first minute and three seconds of the game en route to a 63-7 storm of the visiting Panthers.
The Mustangs jumped ahead on a six-yard score from Josh Watts, then suddenly retained possession when a pooch-kick by Sean Harrity was muffed by Pacheco into the waiting arms of Bastian Jimenez. Spencer Thomas hit a wide-open Austin Jones a play later from 29-yards out for a two score lead.
When Jimenez blocked a punt on Pacheco’s ensuing drive, Oakdale used the second of two Marcus Northcutt rushes to reach the end zone. Northcutt would catch a 15-yard touchdown pass from Thomas for a 28-0 Oakdale lead with over two minutes to play in the opening period.
“I thought the start of the game was huge tonight,” Oakdale coach Trent Merzon said. “We were up 14-0 right out of the gate. We get one stop and it’s 21-0 before they can really get anything going.
“(Pacheco) is a young football team and we talked all week about the importance of starting fast and playing fast and how getting after it would really demoralize them and get us going. That’s exactly what it did.”
Pacheco showed signs of life on their last drive of the first quarter, but standout runner Paul Parks was stripped of possession by Oakdale defensive back Nik Garza at the end of a 21-yard carry into Oakdale territory.
Oakdale would score on a 54-yard interception return by Dewayne Finney (his sixth pick of the season), and add touchdown runs by Northcutt (8 rushes, 86 yards) and Watts (4-20) before the half could end. Max Stevens (5-82) and Tyler Williams (2-33) scored second half touchdowns to sandwich Pacheco’s only score, an 11-yard pass from Daniel Marquez to Maurice Harden.
Oakdale outgained Pacheco 435-162 in offensive yards and saw Thomas go 5 for 5 with 122 yards through the air. Bailey Dryden (14-67) and Darus Nelson (6-23) also delivered quality rushes. Nelson, a pull-up from the freshman squad, was one of several underclassmen to get into the game during a second half that was played nearly entirely by reserves.
“The longer we can go, the more experience we get and the better we can get our young kids,” Merzon said. “Everybody played tonight.”
Oakdale (10-1) will host Benicia (8-3) on Friday in the quarterfinal round of the postseason. The Panthers were 27-24 victors over host Patterson on Nov. 9 and play a spread offense. Benicia has impressive wins over the likes of Wood (5-5) and Bethel (6-5).
“We are pretty excited right now because we did our job tonight,” Garza (seven tackles) said on Friday. “I think we need to do the same thing next week.”
The contest will be the 10th postseason contest for Oakdale’s five three-year varsity squad seniors (Thomas, Northcutt, Jimenez, Hondo Arpoika and Miko Arpoika). Jimenez, Jones and Brock Whiting each had a sack against Pacheco while Miko Arpoika recovered a fumble and Hondo Arpoika had five tackles (one for loss).
Friday’s game begins at 7 p.m.