High School Football

Manteca rallies from early deficit to throttle Oakdale at The Corral

The Oakdale High football team gave its coach and fans quite a ride Friday night.

The Mustangs looked very good at times and very bad at others. The end result was a 55-37 loss to Valley Oak League rival Manteca.

“We looked like a young team for the first time all year,” Oakdale coach Trent Merzon said. “We’re inexperienced, we’re young, and we had a hard time staying off that roller coaster tonight.”

The ride started just fine for the Mustangs, who took a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter.

But Oakdale gave up 42 points in the second half, including 28 in the fourth quarter, and the Buffaloes exited The Corral with the victory.

It was the third loss of the season at home for Oakdale (4-3, 2-1 VOL).

“We were sky high and then we bottomed out, and then we came back sky high again,” Merzon said. “It was all night for us.”

Manteca running back Trabron Russell had a night to remember for the Buffaloes (4-2, 1-1 VOL), rushing for 214 yards and seven touchdowns — yes, you read that right — to propel Manteca.

Russell had touchdown runs of 74, 5, 14, 9, 1, 7 and 43 yards, the last icing the game with 4 minutes, 27 seconds left.

“This is something I dream about. I never imagined doing this in an actual game,” said Russell, a 5-foot-9, 160-pound senior. “At The Corral ... that’s what made it even more special.”

Russell was nearly unstoppable for Manteca. And with the Mustangs holding the Buffaloes’ passing game mostly in check, coach Mark Varnum fed Russell the ball again and again.

“To do what he did against this team at this place, it’s going to go down forever,” Varnum said. “It’s legendary.”

Manteca rarely stopped Oakdale’s offense — the Mustangs punted only twice. But three lost fumbles, an interception on a reverse-pass, and a dropped punt snap proved too much to overcome.

Oakdale’s final fumble was scooped up by Manteca defender Evans Nicolas and he ran 35 yards for the final score.

Despite the missed opportunity, Merzon said he would focus on the positives heading into next week’s game against Sierra (1-1, 5-1).

Among the notable performances for Oakdale were sophomore quarterback Jackson Holt (196 yards passing), junior do-it-all Dominic McDonald (two TD runs and a 37-yard field goal), and running back Rylan Kerr (TD run, TD reception).

“At times I thought we looked awesome,” Merzon said. “It wasn’t effort tonight. I thought our effort was tremendous.”

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Jim Silva has been involved in covering local sports and news for The Modesto Bee since 1996. He graduated with a degree in journalism from San Jose State.
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