STOCKTON – Weston Ranch High’s top playmaker sat in the stands, dressed in street clothes with an undisclosed injury.
One of California’s top sprinters hobbled off the field at the end of the third quarter, his pride fighting him every step of the way.
And the Cougars’ No. 1 quarterback, Marcus Moore, was in and out of the game. He threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
On Friday evening, in front of a homecoming crowd, the visiting Oakdale High Mustangs served up a lesson in what it takes to truly be No. 1 … to be tops.
The six-time defending champions found the end zone on their first five possessions and forced a running clock in the fourth quarter, delivering first-year head coach Seth Davis his worse loss of the season.
The final score: Oakdale 62, Weston Ranch 12.
Davis gathered his players in the north end zone. “Next week begins tomorrow,” he said as the lights on the scoreboard turned off.
The loss evaporated all the momentum Weston Ranch (1-1 Valley Oak League, 2-3) had gained with last week’s thrilling rivalry win over Lathrop.
“We got to come back and work,” Davis said. “Guys got down and we started moving some dudes around and it tested our character. We have to come back and work. It’s not like we lost to a slouch program.”
Oakdale’s vaunted Wing offense was well oiled for Friday’s venture in south Stockton. Seven players toted the ball, five tallied at least one touchdown and four rushed for more than 65 yards.
Darus Nelson provided the biggest thrills, punishing Weston Ranch with one long sweep after another. He had 162 yards on just eight carries, including touchdowns of 5 and 64 yards.
Tyler Williams thundered down the middle of the field early in the third quarter for a 62-yard touchdown. He finished with 75 yards and two scores.
Max Stevens had 89 yards on nine touches and closed the first-half scoring with a 20-yard touchdown.
Oakdale (2-0, 3-2) led 34-6 at the intermission.
Brock Whiting finished with 65 yards and scored on a 14-yard dive with 3:03 left in the first quarter.
In all, the Mustangs rushed for 422 yards, averaging more than 10 yards per attempt.
Davis tipped his cap to the Oakdale staff, most notably head coach Trent Merzon.
The system, he said, is fool proof.
The Mustangs graduated much of the talent from a 2012 team that reached a CIF State Bowl game, but have positioned themselves nicely for a run at seventh straight VOL crown.
The season’s version might be smaller across the board, but they are every bit as disciplined as the rest.
“They’re not the biggest group of kids, but they’ve run (the Wing) for so long,” Davis said. “They’re fundamentally sound.”
Weston Ranch … not so much.
The Cougars were often out of sorts in all three phases.
Moore finished 19 of 30 for 119 yards. He tossed two interceptions and was sacked four times.
He was benched in the second quarter in favor of Khalil Browder (5 of 7, 48 yards), who engineered Weston Ranch’s first score.
Browder connected with Erron Duncan on a 24-yard fade.
Moore returned in the second half and led Weston Ranch on a 19-play, 89-yard scoring drive. Quamante Battle (12 carries, 49 yards) capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge.
“We hadn’t sustained a drive all season,” Davis said. “For us to sustain a drive against Oakdale and finish with a score was huge.”
Still, there are concerns in the Cougars’ camp moving forward.
Running back John McDonald, a two-time state medalist in track, limped off the field in the third quarter with a leg injury.
Wide receiver Chris Cannady, the area’s top wide receiver and a heralded junior prospect, didn’t suit up because of an undisclosed injury.
He watched Friday’s beat-down from the stands.