STOCKTON -- Spencer Thomas was more of a custodian than a quarterback the first month of these playoffs.He was rarely needed, as his team dominated with its potent run attack to capture a Sac-Joaquin Section title.
"As good as we have been running the ball, there was no need to throw much during sections," said Thomas, who has a 37-6 record in his three seasons. "That meant there wasn't a lot of film on our passing game, either, so I think we surprised them."
Thomas' career night surprised Oakdale's fans, who were the majority of the estimated 6,000 folks at Lincoln High, but it clearly stunned Clayton Valley's coaches.
CV was positioned to face a running team that would stick to the ground in good times and bad, and that ploy worked as they prevented Oakdale from any big runs.
But that left the receivers in single coverage, and CV didn't have the right DBs to stay close to Austin Jones, Thomas' favorite when the Mustangs did go to the air during much of this season.
Thomas produced one of the game's key plays when he hit Jones with a 70-yard TD pass in the third quarter giving Oakdale a 21-17 lead it would never give up.
It was his second TD to Jones, and he also hit DeWayne Finney and Eddie Machado with 30-yard TDs.
"I only threw three TDs tonight, right?" said Thomas, as he was swallowed up by a group of fans. "Four? I did?"
His near-flawless outing lifted Oakdale to a 27-24 upset of North Coast Section kingpin Clayton Valley in the Northern California Division 2 Bowl. It's a record 14th win for the Mustangs and keeps their season alive.
Thomas owned the second half, usurping CV's explosive Joe Protheroe as the top athlete on the field even before the CV star got hurt.
He completed 10 of 19 for 225 yards, hitting six of 10 throws in the second half for three TDs and 162 yards.
Thomas, who spent much of this season handing off in the Wing-T to fullback Nikk Ryan and halfback Marcus Northcutt, finished his last two seasons with losses to Del Oro in the section final.
""I got plenty of time from my line," said Thomas, rarely pressured in his 19 dropbacks. "We liked the deep pass (to Jones) because the corners were getting tired. Their running back (Protheroe) was back there, and he was starting to wear down."
Jones had sprinted past the defense, caught it about the 30 and ran the rest of the way. His first TD had been much more dramatic the pass, intended for Finney, ricocheted off a receiver and the DB. Jones had a diving grab on the back line, landing just inside the line.
Oakdale had 40 carries for 125 yards, enough of a threat to force CV's DBs to play up on the line for run support.
Now Thomas and his Mustangs must prepare for SoCal private-school power Serra of Gardena, which beat Edison of Huntington Beach. Oakdale's only loss in 15 games was to Oceanside a D2 team that went 13-1, won its section, yet did not earn a spot in the D2 Bowl.
That gives the Mustangs an indication of just how deep the SoCal D2 pool is.
"I think we'll be ready. We went down there beginning of this year and played a tough team," said Thomas, who club fell behind early to Oceanside in Week 1 and eventually lost 34-14. "Now that we know what they've got in Southern California; we can prepare for that.
"Football down there is tough and physical. We'll watch a lot of film this week and get ready for State. One more game and I want to finish my career with a win. That's the best way to go."