Each year the varsity football game between the Oakdale Mustangs and the Manteca Buffaloes is a hard-hitting slugfest. The game on Friday, Oct. 29 in the OHS Corral was no exception, as hard-nosed running and tackling, interspersed with accurate passing by the Mustangs, was the order of the night. In the end, the Mustangs came away with a 28-0 win over the visiting Buffaloes to earn a third-place finish in the Valley Oak League and a first round bye in the Sac-Joaquin Section, Division III playoffs.
Winning the toss and deferring their option to receive until the second half, the Mustangs kicked off to begin the game and kicker Kevin Camelin sailed the ball into the end zone for a touchback. The Buffaloes ran a total of seven plays before having to punt. The Mustangs answered back with a 13-play, 87-yard touchdown drive punctuated by tough line play and the hard running of Camelin, Jace Rau, Dalton Vargas and Brian Delte. With regular fullback Yahir Ayala out due to an injury, head coach Trent Merzon and running backs coach, Jason Stock, rotated three different players at fullback throughout the game: Delte, Vargas, and Mason Gilton—all three of whom are usually on the defensive side of the ball. During the drive, three-year varsity quarterback, Jackson Holt completed passes to Delte, Mickey Merzon, and culminated the scoring drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Camelin. Camelin then converted the extra point to make the score 7-0 Oakdale.
On their next drive, the Buffaloes went three plays and out, only gaining two yards against a tough Mustang defense. The Mustangs then drove from their own 49 to the Buffalo 24 when they bogged down. With Holt holding, Camelin sent a 43-yard field goal attempt into the October night sky and the ball narrowly missed, hitting the crossbar. After another Manteca punt following a six-play drive, Holt and company went to work once again and drove 88 yards in 14 plays, using sweeps, short passes, and dive plays to get to the Manteca 13-yard line. For the second time in the first quarter, Holt found Camelin on a pass in the corner of the end zone for his second touchdown pass of the evening. The conversion failed due to a bobbled snap as the first quarter ended with the Mustangs leading 13-0.
The second quarter evolved into a hard-hitting chess match between the two teams, with no scoring occurring. Manteca did threaten toward the end of the first half with running back Marcus Brennan ripping off a 42-yard run from his own 38-yard line before being run down and tackled by the Mustangs at the Oakdale 20-yard line. Two plays later, the Buffaloes had the ball first down and goal to go from the Mustang 10-yard line. But the Mustangs dug in and stopped the Buffaloes at the 4-yard line as the half ended. At the end of the first half, the Mustangs had outgained the Buffaloes 199 yards to 94, and had nearly seven minutes more time of possession.
The Mustangs were forced to punt after the opening drive of the third quarter and then, after Manteca had moved the ball from their own 31 to the Oakdale 24, the Mustangs held the Buffaloes on a fourth down running play and took over with 5 minutes, 5 seconds remaining in the third. The Mustangs proceeded to engineer a 6-minute, 15 second, 76-yards on 14-plays drive, again mostly with hard-hitting dives and sweeps by Camelin, Rau, Vargas and Delte plus an exciting 24-yard run by Gilton, to finally score on a 13-yard run by Camelin with 10 minutes, 50 seconds left in the game. The Mustangs made good on a 2-point conversion to make the score 21-0. The next Manteca drive ended with an interception by Gilton at the Buffalo 47-yard line. Four plays later, Delte exploded for a 52-yard touchdown run that brought the Mustang fans to their feet and completed the evening’s scoring.
In the game, the Mustangs gained 367 yards, 299 of which were by rushing. The Mustang defense held the Buffaloes to 186 yards of total offense. Leading the way for the Mustangs was senior Kevin Camelin who garnered 92 yards rushing and 35 yards receiving, scoring three touchdowns and converting three extra points.
The game also served as Senior Night as the Mustang fans saluted 19 senior football players, 11 seniors in the band, drum line and color guard, and 16 seniors on the varsity cheerleading squad. The game also marked the end of an era as 21-year Mustang public address announcer, Pete Simoncini, informed the crowd that he and his press box partners, Steve Knell and Jason Jones, were stepping down from their announcing duties. The team will continue to announce the football playoffs and Simoncini will continue to announce the Mustang winter and spring sports through May.
Oakdale’s junior varsity squad didn’t get the ending they were hoping for, as they lost in their season finale to Manteca by a final score of 52-15.
“Rafael Rios had an 82 yard kickoff return for a touchdown and Kayden Anderson had a 40 yard run for a touchdown,” said coach Matt Miranda. “Our final record was 3-6 overall, 2-2 in league.”
“We were able to defeat Manteca 28-12 to complete an undefeated season,” freshman head coach Chris Lawrence said of the youngest Oakdale squad.
Their final record was 7-0-1; the only blemish an early season tie with East Union.
“On Thursday, our offense moved the ball really well. We were able to make the big plays when we needed them to happen. We had a variety of players touch the ball on offense this year and I was proud of all the improvements the kids made throughout the year,” Lawrence said. “We also played well on defense.”
The coach said the freshmen provided a lot of team speed this year defensively and it gave some teams problems.
“Like on offense, I thought we were able to improve week by week,” noted Lawrence. “Overall I was very proud of the kids and all the hard work they have put in since June 1. I hope that this class continues to work hard and have success at the upper levels in the future.”