Fresh­man Foot­ball Squad Fin­ishes Sea­son At 10-0

The Oakdale Leader - - SPORTS - By DENNIS D. CRUZ dcruz@oak­dale­ LEADER PHO­TOS BY DENNIS D. CRUZ

For coach Rod Long, he could not ask for a bet­ter sea­son for his fresh­man team.

The Oak­dale Mus­tang Ponies stood tall against all com­ers in 2017, in­clud­ing Cen­tral Catholic in the fi­nale. This past Thurs­day night the Ponies hosted the Raiders in a game to de­cide the Val­ley Oak League cham­pi­onship and the Ponies piled it on over the Raiders, 47-13.

Ponies run­ning back Zeke Saf­far fol­lowed the block­ers’ lead and the stout of­fen­sive line and ram­bled for a to­tal of 359 yards and scored six touch­downs against the Raiders. Saf­far scored from 70, 61, 47, 26, 24 and 15 yards out to help power the Ponies to a 10-0 record this year.

“The of­fen­sive line did a great job tonight. We knew what op­por­tu­nity was be­fore us tonight,” Saf­far said of the team. “Coach Long is amaz­ing. He got us ready for bat­tle each week. Cham­pi­ons are made dur­ing prac­tice and his prac­tices pre­pared us for Thurs­day nights. He is a great coach and a great man.”

It did not take the Ponies long to find the end zone; just 1:16 into the con­test and three plays, to be ex­act. On the third play from scrim­mage, quar­ter­back Jason Rawe handed the ball off to Saf­far and the elu­sive back sprinted down the field 70 yards for the score to make it 7-0 Oak­dale with 8:44 re­main­ing in the first quar­ter. The next drive Saf­far cashed in on a 61-yard touch­down to give Oak­dale a 13-0 lead with 4:20 left in the first quar­ter.

Cen­tral Catholic an­swered with a 63-yard touch­down of their own on a Tyler Van Dyke to Jack Grisel catch and run to trim the lead down to 13-7.

Oak­dale’s rush­ing at­tack, how­ever, also fea­tured Dono­van Walker. He had a to­tal of 77 rush­ing yards and scored a touch­down from five yards out with 21 sec­onds left in the first quar­ter to go up 20-7.

Oak­dale ex­panded their lead to 33-7 in the sec­ond quar­ter on a pair of Saf­far touch­downs, scor­ing from 47 and 26 yards out in the sec­ond quar­ter. In the third quar­ter Saf­far scored his fifth touch­down on a 24-yard run to go up 407. Cen­tral Catholic scored on a Van Dyke to Grisel con­nec­tion from 26 yards out with 33 sec­onds left in the third quar­ter. The fi­nal score of the game came from Saf­far with 7:42 left to play. Saf­far’s touch­down came from 15 yards out.

As im­pres­sive as the Ponies of­fense was, the de­fense made a huge state­ment early and kept up the in­ten­sity through­out the game. Ry­lan Kerr made two key stops on fourth down and had an in­ter­cep­tion in the first half. Zachary Aloisio had a blocked PAT and sacked Van Dyke twice in the game. Gan­non Davis, Steven Graff and Bran­don Jef­fery de­liv­ered heavy hits and ap­plied pres­sure on Van Dyke.

“This is a real spe­cial group. They played very un­selfish foot­ball from day one,” Coach Long said of his play­ers. “A lot of th­ese guys played po­si­tions that they never played be­fore. They all played great this sea­son.”

With 60 plus play­ers on the team, as­sist­ing Coach Long were Chris Lawrence (De­fen­sive Co­or­di­na­tor), Ty Malone (Lines Coach), Justin Martin (Lineback­ers, Wider Re­ceivers and Kick­ers Coach), and James Simmons (De­fen­sive Backs Coach).

A young fan made this sign for the Ponies to cel­e­brate the per­fect sea­son.

Zeke Saf­far racked up 357 rush­ing yards and scored six touch­downs for Oak­dale on Thurs­day night to help the Ponies go 10-0 on the sea­son.

The Fab­u­lous Fil­lies, the OHS fresh­man cheer­lead­ers en­ter­tained the home crowd for the fi­nal time this sea­son. The cheer squad per­formed at mid­field dur­ing half­time.

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