STOCKTON — After 91 seasons and 526 victories, there's little Oakdale High's football program has yet to achieve.
The Mustangs are breaking new ground tonight, though, by facing Clayton Valley in the Northern California Division 2 Bowl at Lincoln High School's Spanos Stadium.
It's the school's first appearance in the State Bowl series, it will be a school-record 15th game in a season, and an opportunity for a school-record 14th victory.
Oakdale has enjoyed plenty of playoff success, playing in the Sac-Joaquin Section final for the third year in a row. It was nominated for a bowl in 2007, going 13-1 and winning a section title, but finished second to Novato in the voting.
The Mustangs are in one of five NorCal bowls. The winners are in Carson next week to face the SoCal champions.
Success or failure likely depends on Oakdale's ability to slow Joe Protheroe, who has 2,895 yards in 13 games. He is the most prolific runner still playing in the United States.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder averages 15 yards a carry, helping the Eagles win 12 straight games. No team has finished within 20 points of CV, which lost its opener to Pittsburg.
Oakdale is happy to give it to Ryan (1,039 yards, 19 TDs) and halfback Marcus Northcutt (1,202 yards, 15 TDs), though it's got an air threat with QB Spencer Thomas (1,455 yards, 21 TDs, 3 INTs) and Austin Jones (43 catches, 21.4-yard avg., 9 TDs).
Thomas was one of the most efficient passers in the Stanislaus District the second half of the season. He hit 40 of his 45 throws, with nine TDs, in a six-game span leading to the final but was 4-of-11 with a pick and two TDs last week.
Northern California Division 2 Bowl
Oakdale (13-1) vs. Clayton Valley (12-1), 7:30 p.m.
(at Lincoln High School's Spanos Stadium in Stockton)
There won't be a more prolific runner on a high school field anywhere in the nation this week than Joe Protheroe (2,895 yards), who has flourished with Clayton Valley's double-wing scheme and its commitment to power running.
CV lost its opener to speedy Pittsburg, but it's won 12 straight with no foe getting closer than 20 points.
The Eagles will pull linemen to create a numerical mismatch, and their patience has allowed it to pull away from teams in the third quarter after softening up defenses.
Clayton Valley hasn't seen much of the Wing-T that Oakdale is running, though, and certainly not this physical brand.
QB Spencer Thomas is 36-6 in his three seasons, but Nikk Ryan (27 carries, 170 yards) was the star in the Mustangs' 22-9 section title win Nov. 30. The bruising fullback opened the second half with a pair of long runs as Oakdale established its ground game.
Oceanside best Oakdale 35-14 in Week 1 Oceanside won its eighth straight section title and is No. 14 in CalHiSports' overall state rankings but the Mustangs have dominated every team since.