The Oakdale Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By DEN­NIS D. CRUZ dcruz@oak­dale­

Fol­low­ing their dif­fi­cult road loss to Arch­bishop Mitty a week ago, Oak­dale loaded the bus for an­other road trip this past Fri­day night. The Mus­tangs trav­eled to Merced Ju­nior Col­lege to take on the Gau­chos of El Cap­i­tan on Aug. 31 and though they strug­gled in the first half, they came out of the tun­nel fo­cused and mo­ti­vated in the sec­ond half and got the win, 33-6.

The Mus­tangs (0-0, 2-1) and Gau­chos (0-0, 0-3) bat­tled through a score­less first quar­ter and each team’s of­fense con­tin­ued to strug­gle in the sec­ond quar­ter. Max Moore scored the first points of the game on a short one­yard run to give Oak­dale a 6-0 ad­van­tage with 7:39 left in the half. Moore fin­ished the night with 20 car­ries for 110 yards rush­ing. With less than a minute re­main­ing in the half, El Cap­i­tan tied the game on a 20-yard rush by quar­ter­back Ja­cob Tanori set­ting up a 6-6 half­time score.

In the first half Oak­dale failed to con­vert on fourth down twice, once in­side the red zone; then had two turnovers via fum­bles.

“It was a bad first half, un­char­ac­ter­is­tic of us. But we need to work on those things oth­er­wise it will be a long sea­son,” said Mus­tangs head coach Trent Mer­zon.

The sec­ond half Oak­dale got back to their iden­tity; grind out the ball us­ing the Wing-T and wear down the op­pos­ing de­fense. An­thony “AJ” Martinez car­ried the ball 17 times for 117 yards to lead Oak­dale on the ground. Martinez scored the first points of the sec­ond half on a five-yard carry with 7:25 left in the quar­ter.

Five min­utes later sopho­more run­ning back Zeke Saf­far scored on a nine-yard rush to boost the Mus­tangs lead to 20-6. Saf­far fin­ished with 63 rush­ing yards and a touch­down.

In the fourth quar­ter Oak­dale scored two touch­downs, both on the ground. Caleb Kup­pens found the end zone on a seven-yard carry early in the fourth quar­ter and Leo Ayala scored on an eight-yard rush to cap off the night. Ayala fin­ished with 96 rush­ing yards in the game.

On the de­fen­sive side of the ball, Oak­dale played phys­i­cal most of the night. Big hits by Eric DeGraff, Trevor Smith and Pey­ton Brad­ford pun­ished the home team and shut them out in the sec­ond half. Brad­ford had three and a half sacks in the game.

“We came out mo­ti­vated and de­ter­mined in the sec­ond half, but hon­estly we should have played like that all four quar­ters,” Brad­ford said.

This Fri­day night, Sept. 7, Oak­dale wel­comes out of state guests, Cha­parral to The Cor­ral. Cha­parral (0-0, 1-1) will travel from Parker, Colorado to take on the Mus­tangs. The Wolver­ines are com­ing off an 1810 home win over Rocky Moun­tain. Kick­off is sched­uled for 7 p.m.


Se­nior full­back Max Moore was a hu­man wreck­ing ball in the first half against El Cap­i­tan. Shown is Moore, 5, div­ing for ex­tra yardage against the Gau­chos on Fri­day night. Moore rushed for 110 yards in the game, in­clud­ing 94 yards in the first half.

De­fen­sive line­man Pey­ton Brad­ford, 33, had a busy night on de­fense. He recorded seven tack­les and had 3.5 sacks in the game against El Cap­i­tan.

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