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Colfax back at The Corral

Oakdale provides a major challenge for Falcons in first round of the playoffs
By: Mike Ray Gold Country News Service
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The weather forecast for tonight’s Sac-Joaquin Section Div. IV football playoff game between Colfax and Oakdale calls for clear weather in the San Joaquin Valley. But if you talk to Colfax coach Tony Martello, his Falcons are bracing to deal with a lot of “thunder and lightning” in the form of a potent 1-2 running punch the Mustangs present in Isaiah Mendez-Borba and Nick Batteate. “They’ve got two excellent runners who we’ll have to slow down or it could be a long night,” said Martello about the talented duo who have been the catalyst on offense for a team that after dropping its first two games to Div. I foes has stepped off eight straight wins. When Oakdale, 8-2 overall and 5-0 in winning the tough Valley Oak League for the 7th time in the last 11 years, hosts Colfax in the 7:30 p.m. game at The Corral, it will mark the fifth meeting between the two schools since 2002. And while the defending section champion Mustangs said farewell via graduation to talented players like Devin Coombs, Rudi Burtschi and Rodney Periera, Oakdale coach Trent Merzon knows that players like Batteate and Mendez-Borba are back to set the tone. “We lose seniors every year,” said Merzon. “This year’s seniors know that it’s their turn now.” In the last two weeks, the Mustang pair has done more than their share of damage to two playoff caliber opponents. In a 31-21 win over VOL No. 2 playoff team Sierra of Manteca, Mendez-Borba showed off his power on one touchdown run by breaking four to five tackles and carrying a Sierra defender on his back into the end zone. “He’s a tough runner,” said Martello. “Graves (Zack) at Whitney is probably a better all-around back but Mendez-Borba gets his pad level down and uses his legs to run over people.” Batteate, meanwhile, because of his speed and quickness, is a threat to score every time he touches the ball whether on skirts around end or passes out of the backfield. In last week’s 21-14 win over a 7-3 Sonora team, Batteate carried the ball 13 times for 126 yards while Medez-Borba added 124 more stripes on 12 carries. The Oakdale quarterback is Tanner Combs, the younger brother of last season’s starter. He is an accurate passer and can also scramble for additional yards. Meanwhile, Oakdale’s defense is not shabby as the Mustangs have allowed just 114 points in 10 games while posting three shutouts. In an interesting side-note to the Colfax-Oakdale rivalry, because of a possible new CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoff format that could take hold if approved in 2010, the chances of Oakdale, with an enrollment of 1,593, and Colfax, 950, meeting in the playoffs in the near future could be dwindling. “We’ve had some great games with Oakdale,” said Martello. “It’s been a good rivalry.”