Far from perfect.
That was the theme of Oakdale High’s varsity football performance during a 63-14 shellacking of Lathrop on Friday’s Homecoming night in front of a standing-room only crowd inside The Corral.
Oakdale was flagged for five of their seven penalties in the opening quarter, gave up two Lathrop touchdowns in the first 13 minutes of the game and allowed three Lathrop sacks.
A resilient offensive attack that accounted for consecutive scores on all seven of Oakdale’s first-half possessions, though, kept the Spartans well out of reach, but a second week of penalty-plagued action was tough for Oakdale coaches to swallow.
“It’s hard to be mad when you score 63 points, but we talk a lot about how we don’t prepare to play our opponents but prepare ourselves,” Oakdale coach Trent Merzon said. “We have high standards to live up to and we did not meet our standards tonight. We had ridiculous penalties, selfish penalties ¾ and if happens on the wrong night our season is going to end in heartache.
“We were far from perfect tonight on both sides of the ball.”
Lathrop stunned the Mustangs’ loud Homecoming crowd when quarterback Elijah Cash connected with Ricky Chaves on a 77-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 Lathrop lead on the third play from scrimmage just 1:25 into the first quarter.
Oakdale answered back with three touchdowns by Spencer Thomas (22-yard pass to Marcus Northcutt), Marcus Hernandez (2-yard run) and Northcutt (40-yard run), but soon found Lathrop only seven points behind after Cash delivered a 52-yard strike and connected with the same receiver (Austin Plunk) for a wide-open 5-yard score just seven seconds into the second quarter. The nine-play Spartan scoring drive was aided by two Oakdale penalties.
Oakdale rallied to four scores before the half could end and produced two touchdowns from the second-team offense in the second half.
The Mustangs rolled to 436 offensive yards to Lathrop’s 207 and held the Spartans to 74 yards on 29 carries. Cash completed only three passes and saw Lathrop quarterbacks (he was replaced in the third quarter) finish with 15 incompletions on the night.
Thomas (7 for 9, 147 yards) was spectacular despite a rotating offensive front that sustained blocks for most plays but allowed Spartan linemen to capture three quarterback sacks.
Oakdale played without 6 foot, 245-pound senior right tackle Tyler Daley (ejected against Kimball), and rotated a few players into the lineup in his absence. Undersized junior Baily Byers (5-7, 180) got the start, while classmate Jaidyn Sheetz (6-4, 210) played for three quarters.
Senior guard Cody Cole (5-10, 260) made big blocks to spring Oakdale runners and was happy with holes the line opened, despite the rotations.
“We were back and forth switching players, but some players came in to work and we tried to give the backs as much room as we could,” Cole said afterwards. “It’s fun playing out there, and it’s amazing the way the team works together.”
Thomas ran for a score to close the first half and hit Austin Jones for a 32-yard touchdown. He also connected with Hernandez four times for 74 yards. Hernandez ended with 72 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
Northcutt ended with 79 yards and two touchdowns on only six carries.
“The line did a really good job blocking and I just followed them,” Northcutt said. “The focus wasn’t really there to start the game, but after things went wrong we stepped up and played better.”
Oakdale opened the second half with their second-string offense to play against the running clock. Nikk Ryan (two rushes, 61 yards) exploded for a 56-yard touchdown to start the second half and watched teammate Max Dillwood (6-50) break loose for a 28-yard score on the final play of the third quarter. The Oakdale defense was led by Ryan (five tackles, tackle for loss, batted ball) and Hondo Arpoika (five tackles).
Oakdale (3-0 Valley Oak League, 6-0 overall) will tackle host East Union (1-2, 1-5) on Friday.