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Mustangs Face Clayton Valley In NorCal Regional Championship
12-5 OAK FB Arpoika
Some instruction from Oakdale defensive coordinator Hondo Arpoika leads the program in the section title game. The Oakdale defense will be challenged to stop a potent rushing attack from Clayton Valley in the NorCal Regional Championship. - photo by IKE DODSON/THE LEADER

Nestled less than five miles from the historic Concord campus of California’s best Division I high school football team, De La Salle, is the campus of the Spartans’ younger brother — Division II Clayton Valley Charter.

De La Salle, the North Coast Section DI champ, will play DII Sac-Joaquin Section title-winner, Folsom, in the NorCal open division 2012 California Interscholastic Federation Regional Football Championship Bowl Game on Saturday.

Meanwhile, section champions Clayton Valley (NCS DII) and Oakdale (SJS DIII) will square off in NorCal’s DII Regional Bowl Game at 7:30 p.m. at Lincoln High in Stockton on Saturday, Dec. 8.

It’s the same location that hosted Oakdale’s 22-9 victory over Vista del Lago in the SJS finale, a win that granted the Mustangs an appearance in the first ever Regional Championship series hosted by the CIF. Winners advance to NorCal vs. SoCal State Bowl Games at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

“I think it’s the 24-hour rule, that you enjoy a win for 24 hours and then go back to work,” Oakdale special teams, defensive back and quarterback coach Tim Meyer said immediately after the win over Vista del Lago on Nov. 30. “We will definitely enjoy this one and then get ready to go again. It seems like it’s been like this since (the start of the regular season).”

Clayton Valley (12-1) enters the contest ranked No. 1 in NorCal DII bowl game rankings after an impressive 35-7 win over previously No. 2 ranked Rancho Cotate in the NCS finals.

The Eagles run an effective double-wing offense that has led the team to over 300 yards on the ground in all 10 of their regular season games and surrendered over 3,000 rushing yards to standout senior Joe Protheroe (6 feet, 1 inch, 205 pounds), the Diablo Valley League MVP. When the team isn’t darting through holes amidst their deceptive power-run formation they are playing incredibly stout defense.

Clayton Valley has outscored opponents by an average of 53-15 since a 40-27 loss to Pittsburg in the season opener. Pittsburg went on to beat SJS DI champ, Granite Bay, and qualify for the NCS DI playoffs, where they were eliminated by none other than De La Salle.

It’s an incredibly difficult challenge to stop the Clayton Valley offense. The linemen pull well and can create a wall of blockers pushing to one side of the field. Joe’s brother, Michael Protheroe (5-11, 210), has been effective in passing situations and makes defenders pay for stacking the box in an attempt to combat Clayton Valley’s run formations which typically feature all 11 players in a bundle around the center.

The Eagles feature seven runners with 20 or more carries in 2012 and Michael Protheroe has 15 rushing touchdowns as a ball carrier.

Clayton Valley has a handful of players that have played both ways, including Joe Protheroe and second-leading rusher Jesse Medrano (5-11, 195), who was named the DVL Defensive MVP and leads the team in tackles. Defensive standouts also include the likes of defensive end Logan Bangert (6-3, 215), defensive back Garrett Nelson (6-2, 175) and defensive back Curtis Grant (5-10, 170).

The winner of Saturday’s contest will travel to Southern California and play the winner of Serra (12-2) and Edison (12-1), who meet at Orange Coast College at the same time.