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Oakdale Football Makes Statement With Win Over Novato
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When Oakdale High football head coach Trent Merzon mapped out his non-league schedule during the early portion of the summer months, he knew that the Novato Hornets would be a true test for his Mustang football squad.After Oakdale’s convincing 34-22 victory over the Hornets, it is safe to say that Oakdale is going to be a force to be reckoned with throughout the 2009 campaign.Oakdale shrugged off a fluke pre-game injury to their two-year starting quarterback Tanner Combs and then shrugged off a quick strike Novato touchdown and 2-point PAT conversion just five minutes into the ball game.The resiliency that the Mustangs showed in the early going of the contest is what any coach strives to see from his players.“I was very proud of the way our kids performed,” Merzon said. “The game didn’t start that well and against a good team like that … I just felt that our kids never quit believing and they just kept grinding.“Good things were going to happen if they kept believing in themselves, believing in each other and believing in the system.”The Mustangs sputtered out with a punt, turnover and another punt on their first three possessions of the game, finally pressing through when the defensive unit provided a huge fourth-and-1 stop on their own 10-yard line, igniting the Mustangs’ faithful as well as the back-up quarterback led Mustang offense.Robert Stout got the immediate call when Combs went down mere moments before the contest, throwing the Mustangs’ second-string signal caller into a Hornet’s nest that he would completely dismantle with the assistance of a bruising Oakdale-esque running attack.“This is high school football,” Merzon said. “Of course we liked our kids, but we really didn’t know what to expect from our kids. We thought our backs were pretty good, but there are still a lot of questions with our running game.“Nobody cares what you did for one night, can you do it for a whole season?”The Mustangs will surely have to answer that question as the verdict has arrived that Combs will be done for the season, thrusting Stout into a role that he has waited for and prepared for during his high school years.Oakdale would march 90-yards after the defensive stop, culminating with a beautiful 16-yard strike from Stout to Vince Thompson, giving the Mustangs their first score and assurance that they could play with the Hornets.Novato wouldn’t go quietly, responding immediately with a touchdown of their own just six plays later.The direct response pushed the game into a different gear, with Oakdale responding in just two plays after a Daniel Gasdik kickoff return to the Novato 38 set up a quick score on the second handoff of the drive.Tim House bruised his way in from six-yards out after teammate Devin Brooks took the first carry 32-yards down to Novato’s six, awakening an offensive rushing attack that would never look back.The backfield mates, House, Brooks and Blake Raham bruised and sped their way to over 100 yards each, carrying Oakdale through every hindrance that presented itself over the game’s final three periods.The trio was able to run past tacklers, through tacklers and often between defenders on their way to victory, setting up vaulted expectations for Oakdale’s final non-league tune up against Whitney High on Sept. 25.Whitney will arrive in Oakdale with a wining streak that dates back to their last defeat, handed out by the Mustangs in the 2007 Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Championship.“We knew when we scheduled it,” Merzon said of the Whitney showdown, “that we needed to get ready to play back-to-back great games. We’re getting ready to play Manteca, Sierra and Sonora. We know who they are and they know who we are.“They (Whitney) haven’t lost since 2007. We’re going to have to play very, very well to win on Friday, but so are they.”