OAKDALE -- Oakdale High went decades without reaching into its junior varsity and freshman programs for assistance, except under dire circumstances.
The philosophy changed two years ago, when four sophomores were promoted to varsity at once. That quartet has been the heart of a team that has played for back-to-back section titles.
Coach Trent Merzon is at it again.
Sophomore linebacker Brock Whiting set the tone with a wicked sack in the first half, and the Mustangs rode the emotion from that play to a 56-14 rout of Kimball.
Whiting is one of three sophomores on varsity; there's a freshman, too.
"They like me because I'm quick," said the 6-foot, 150-pound Whiting, the third in a line of brothers to wear the red and gold. "We run two inside linebackers, and I'm sort of small there."
It wasn't a problem Friday. Whiting harassed QB Zack Johnson throughout the night, but it was the first sack of his varsity career that was special.
Oakdale (4-1, 2-0 VOL), The Bee's top-ranked team, led 21-7 in the first half with Kimball driving. On third-and-13 at the 50, Whiting ran past a linemen without being touched to bowl over Johnson and force a punt with 1 minute, 40 seconds, remaining.
"I was waiting for the blitz, and they yelled 'Mustang, Mustang.' I took off," Whiting said. "Their QB runs well. I had Miko Arpoika going after the QB, too, so he wasn't going to get away."
Neither would Kimball, which had hoped to get to halftime down by 14.
Oakdale took over on its goal line, but Marcus Northcutt (175 yards) got 40 yards on a sweep, thanks to a well-timed cutback, and 13 on a draw. QB Spencer Thomas gained 14, before hitting DeWayne Finney over a DB in the corner of the end zone for a 28-7 lead.
Thomas (175 yards, 3 TDs), who was one of those sophomores in 2010, fired three TDs. Austin Jones caught two, including a deflection he snared in the end zone, while Northcutt and Nikk Ryan (120 yards) ran for two TDs each.
"When I saw the ball coming short, I was going to try and bat it down," said Jones, whose 50-yard catch had set up Northcutt's first TD run. "The DB got to it, but he tipped it right to me."
Ryan, who got his first start at fullback a week ago, had a 52-yard run early in the second half to set up a score.
Johnson's 48-yard TD toss put the Jags (1-4, 0-2) up 7-0 on their first possession, but they got 15 yards the rest of the half. Northcutt's 2-yard run and a 15-yard catch by Jones early in the third quarter blew the game open.
Oakdale's Marcus Northcutt scores on a 2-yard touchdown.
Oakdale High's Nikk Ryan scores from two yards out against Kimball.
Oakdale High's Marcus Northcutt rumbles for 40 yards.
Oakdale Austin Jones makes a 24-yard touchdown catch after the ball defelcts off a Kimball defensive back.