A Friday excursion that started with a long trek to Aptos on the coast of California included a walk-through just beyond the beach for Oakdale High’s varsity football team. Hours later Oakdale walked through upstart Aptos High with a triumphant 55-21 victory. The win over the well-disciplined Mariners, a classy Division III team from the Central Coast Section, was Oakdale’s second straight over a well-respected program that qualified for the playoffs in 2010.
And the tests have just begun.
Oakdale has five playoff qualifiers from last year left on the 2011 docket, including Division II Northern Section power Rancho Cotate. The Cougars went 12-2 last year and avenged one of those losses with a 63-27 blowout of Pinole Valley (11-1-1 in 2010) last week.
Oakdale hosts Rancho Cotate on Friday, and worked to prepare for that match-up with a relentless victory over Aptos on the road this past week.
“We did a good job defensively, and Aptos did a good job using the Wing-T to attack us,” Oakdale defensive coordinator Hondo Arpoika said. “The kids made nice adjustments and put the pressure on.”
Junior Marcus Northcutt scored on Oakdale’s opening drive and watched senior teammate Marcus Hernandez bully to three more scores for a 28-7 lead at the half. Hernandez tallied a long kickoff return touchdown in the second half and saw Northcutt chip in one more as the team rolled to over 400 yards of offense. The Mustang defense, which shined in a 33-7 win over Turlock on Sept. 2, forced five Aptos turnovers (three interceptions, two recovered fumbles) and held the Mariners to just two second half scores.
Oakdale coaches and parents said Aptos provided a friendly and welcoming environment, and even fed Oakdale players after the game.
“It was a unique experience for the kids to be able to hang out for a little at the beach and do some walkthroughs,” Arpoika said. “Aptos had great hospitality and we appreciated that they fed the team.”
Oakdale will do its best to welcome Rancho Cotate of Rohnert Park for Friday’s highly anticipated non-conference showdown, but the Mustangs certainly won’t be timid.
The Cougars upset a good Pinole Valley team by 36 points a week ago, and showed some of the same aggression that propelled the team to a 12-win season and North Coast Section runner-up finish in 2010.
Rancho Cotate is led by senior fullback Anthony Navarro (5 feet, 10 inches, 180 pounds), lanky senior quarterback Ricky Garcia (6-4, 185) and senior wide receiver Yousef Khoury.
The Cougars’ 42-man roster sports 13 players over six feet tall and some particular size from the likes of lineman like Chris Lemus (6-10, 245), A.J. Davison (6-5, 275), Nick Reynolds (6-3, 240) and Tyler Rosentreter (6-3, 280).
“It’s going to be a full throttle because they are very good,” Arpoika said. “They are big, physical and fast. We have our hands full.”