WILD WEST WIN

The Oakdale Leader - - FRONT PAGE - DENNIS D. CRUZ/THE LEADER

Foot­ball is back; the Oak­dale var­sity Mus­tangs wel­comed their long­time ri­val, the Sonora Wild­cats, to The Cor­ral on Fri­day night, Aug. 17 for the first game of the 2018 sea­son. Here, Caleb Kup­pens pounces on a loose ball dur­ing the first quar­ter of Oak­dale’s 49-0 home win. Kup­pens had two fum­ble re­cov­er­ies and a touch­down for Oak­dale.

It has been a tra­di­tion for more than a cen­tury: Oak­dale vs. Sonora on a Fri­day night. The stage was set; Mus­tangs vs. Wild­cats in­side The Cor­ral to start the 2018 var­sity foot­ball sea­son. The hype train was in full ef­fect and shortly af­ter kick­off, the hype train turned into a train wreck for the vis­i­tors; as Oak­dale won 49-0 to send Sonora back up the hill shell-shocked.

Oak­dale scored twice in the first quar­ter, both touch­downs com­ing in the fi­nal four min­utes of the open­ing frame. Os­car Ramos scored the in­au­gu­ral touch­down of the sea­son on a one yard rush to give Oak­dale a 7-0 ad­van­tage. Less than three min­utes later Zeke Saf­far cashed in on a 35 yard rush­ing touch­down to dou­ble the Mus­tangs lead. Saf­far struck again when he scored on a 54 yard run in the first minute of the sec­ond quar­ter to open the game up to 21-0. Saf­far fin­ished with five car­ries for 113 yards and scored two touch­downs.

Hav­ing a big game on both sides of the ball, Caleb Kup­pens was a thorn in the Wild­cats paws. On de­fense Kup­pens re­cov­ered two fum­bles, in­clud­ing one where he re­turned it 36 yards to set up a score. He was a pres­ence on spe­cial teams where he and Car­son Frazee wreaked havoc on a play that saw Frazee block a punt. On the of­fense Kup­pens scored on a one yard carry to go up 28-0.

“We watched a lot of film, and my brothers had trust in me and I have trust in them,” said Kup­pens. “It was very im­por­tant to go out there and get this win and start the sea­son off on the right track.”

In the sec­ond half Oak­dale came out fir­ing when quar­ter­back Hay­den Knit­tel found Devin Mur­phy in the back of the end zone to go up 35-0 early in the quar­ter. The Mus­tangs ground at­tack con­tin­ued to im­press the large home crowd when Leo Ayala found the end zone on an 11 yard rush late in the third quar­ter to ex­pand the lead to 42-0. The fi­nal score of the night came when Evan Waite scored on a 15 yard catch and run with 4:20 left in the game.

With new of­fen­sive line coach Joey Machado, the line looked like it has over re­cent his­tory, pow­er­ful, fast and dis­ci­plined. The line opened up holes for the backs, kept both quar­ter­backs up­right and did not com­mit a penalty the whole game.

“Our goal was to come out here and make the holes and blocks that we have to do. I think we did that but could also im­prove on it as well,” said line­man Robert Silva.

This is the 19th sea­son that the Mus­tangs have been coached by Trent Mer­zon. With es­sen­tially a new ros­ter, Mer­zon and his staff kept calm and got his play­ers mo­ti­vated for the ri­valry game.

“We wanted to see how we would re­act, see how the play­ers would re­act. I think fol­low­ing the game the ex­pec­ta­tions are higher,” said Mer­zon. “I think we played re­ally well in spurts, which means we didn’t play real well in spurts too. We got up on them and at other times we played so-so, and that’s my fault. I think we played well early and jumped on them, on both sides of the ball, and then we kind of went ‘ehh’ through some of the night.”

This Satur­day af­ter­noon Oak­dale will take on Arch­bishop Mitty at St. Fran­cis High School. Kick­off is sched­uled for noon.

Sopho­more run­ning back Zeke Saf­far did most of his dam­age to Sonora in the sec­ond quar­ter. Saf­far scored two touch­downs and had over 100 yards on the ground.

Evan Waite scored a 15 yard touch­down on this re­cep­tion for the fi­nal score of the night. Oak­dale routed the vis­it­ing Sonora Mus­tangs 49-0.

An­thony “AJ” Martinez stiff arms this Sonora de­fender in an ef­fort to break a big run on Fri­day night at The Cor­ral.

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