It was the Trabron Russell Show Friday
night at The Corral. Unfortunately, Russell was wearing the opposing team’s
uniform … as visiting Manteca overcame a slow start and rolled past the host
varsity Mustangs by a 55-37 final.
With two touchdowns already in the bag and Manteca trailing Oakdale by a score at the half, Russell had a talk with his lead blocker that would turn out to be the turning point.
Russell would add five more rushing touchdowns to set a single-game program record in the Buffaloes’ shocking 55-37 rout of the Mustangs. Manteca (1-1, 4-2 overall) trailed the anticipated Valley Oak League match-up 20-0 early in the second quarter.
“Angel (Garay, Manteca fullback) came up to me at halftime and told me, ‘Nobody is going to touch you,’” Russell said. “The blocking was there, and I just had to find the lane and that’s what I did.
While Manteca struggled to find any offensive traction early on in the contest, punting on its first possession and botching a punt on its second to give Oakdale prime field position to score the game’s first touchdown on 7-yard counter run, the one constant began to emerge as Russell slowly started to put together chunks of yardage.
With big-play ability — Russell would break a 74-yard scamper in the second quarter that put Manteca on the board and jump-started the offense — it was a matter of time, and touches, before the workhorse back found his stride, pulling piles of Mustang players for 2, 3 and 4 additional yards one every carry.
The result was exactly what Manteca head coach Mark Varnum was hoping for but came in a way that he didn’t expect in this 100th all-time meeting between the longtime rivals. Oakdale remains in the lead, 52-44-4.
“To come to The Corral and play a game like that, we just never quit,” Varnum said.
Oakdale (2-1, 4-3) traded touchdowns with Manteca during the second half in a back-and-forth affair that was not typical of the smashmouth, grinding style of the VOL, which caught both coaching staffs off guard since it has historically been the defense that have made these rivalry showdowns nail-biters. The Mustangs just could not muster the offensive output they needed in the second half.
Manteca made the stops when it mattered most, specifically Oakdale’s opening drive of the second half which allowed for Russell to grind his way to a game-tying touchdown and erase the 20-point deficit that seemed at one point insurmountable.
Russell finished the game with 240 yards on 19 carries and seven touchdowns.
Containing the shifty and equally bruising back proved to be difficult for Oakdale, but head coach Trent Merzon said he was proud of his guys for bringing what they did – even if it didn’t unfold the way that anybody expected it to.
“It was a weird game — I’m going to watch the film to figure out exactly what this was all about,” Merzon said. “They stayed in it, they showed up tonight and they stayed in it and you can’t let a team like that stay in a game this long.
“I’m proud of the effort that our guys put into the game tonight, they balled out, and I think if you ask those guys over there they’ll tell you that we hit them as hard as anybody has this season. They made mistakes tonight, and we made mistakes tonight — there were just a lot of mistakes at the wrong times.”
Oakdale will welcome Sierra in to The Corral for the Friday night, Oct. 11 Homecoming contest.
Outscored by the visiting Manteca team, the Oakdale JV football boys took a 20-7 loss on Friday night. They took the early lead, scoring a touchdown in the first quarter, while Manteca countered with six points in the second quarter. The difference came in the fourth quarter, when the JV Buffaloes put two touchdowns on the board, adding 14 points in that frame, to take the Valley Oak League win off the field.
On the road, the youngest Oakdale team found a way to get it done on Thursday night, scoring in three of the four quarters and leaving Manteca with a 27-7 victory on Oct. 3. Opening up with 13 points in the first quarter, the freshmen added another touchdown in the second quarter to take a 20-0 halftime lead. Manteca countered with a single score in the third quarter to make it 20-7, but the young Oakdale team answered back with a final touchdown in the fourth quarter. They came away with the satisfying league victory.
Leader Editor Marg Jackson contributed to this report.