OAKDALE -- Each week, it seems, the competition is faster. It's the way of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
Slow teams are tossed to the side of the field, left to rust. If you're not fast, you're going to finish last just take a look at the Division 3 semifinalists.
Oakdale, with one of the fastest defenses in the Stanislaus District, will finish a distant second if it allows Friday's game to turn into a track meet.
American Canyon sprinter Jomon Dotson has run for 2,087 yards, tops in the section, averaging 13.6 yards every time the ball is in his hands.
Oakdale doesn't have anyone capable of running him down. The school has never had pure speed like that.
"We make up for it by being aggressive, getting three or four of us to the ball every play," said Bastian Jimenez, who plays a hybrid 'backer-safety position. "And we hit. Hard. If you hit a guy for three quarters, blow after blow, he's going to get tired of it."
Jimenez, Nick Garza and Tanner Morgan are on the back line, with DeWayne Finney and Eddie Machado at the corners. It forms an umbrella of defenders, keeping the ball in front.
Not only will they be challenged by Dotson, but Chris Seisay has committed to Oregon as a safety (he has two of his team's 22 interceptions). He doubles at receiver, with nine TDs.
"Watch the hips and don't take any plays off. It's the only way you beat teams at this point," Machado said. "You make a mistake, it's a season."
Oakdale gives up 11 points a game, many coming after its potent offense has built a sizable lead, by giving up short gains to attain a long-term goal.
Coach Trent Merzon says his team hasn't faced speed like this since Inderkum in 2009. It gave up 543 yards offense during a 49-30 semifinal loss.
"We lift weights daily at 6 a.m. with this kind of game in mind," Jimenez said. "We won't be outconditioned."