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Vista's fine season ends with loss

By: Matt Long/Telegraph Sports Editor
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A much-improved offense, a league championship and the program’s first playoff victory: Vista del Lago’s 2011 season will be remembered as a huge success. It was a season where the Eagles took positives steps forward in their fifth year of existence. Vista has gradually taken positive steps from a junior varsity team in 2007, a varsity team in 2008, a varsity team with a first senior class in 2009, a first playoff berth in 2010 and a playoff victory this year. “I thought it was a very good season,” Vista coach Chris Jones said. “We had a lot of very good things happen to us. Winning league was huge and winning that first playoff game was also huge. More than that we measured ourselves against some opponents that have taken it to us in the past like Casa Roble. We took some good strides this year.” Jones stated that the program is on the right path. Next year another step in the right direction is the goal. “I don’t know if that means winning multiple playoffs games or what,” Jones said. “I think the most logical thing is improving our regular season position so that we have a better chance to make a deep run in the playoffs. Going 8-2 or 9-1 is the step we need to take.” Oakdale 49, Vista 7 Before they knew it, Vista del Lago’s football season was over. Top-seeded Oakdale scored early and often, as the Eagles’ season came to an end following a disappointing 49-7 loss on a rain-soaked night 100 miles from home. Aaron Young’s first pass from scrimmage was intercepted and returned for a touchdown and the Mustangs led 14-0 before the game was three minutes old. Before the Eagles ran 10 offensive plays, Oakdale led 21-0 after they picked off another Young pass and returned it for a score. By halftime the Eagles were down 28-0. Game over. “We knew that we’d have to play mistake free to win,” Vista coach Chris Jones said. “I think we were rattled by the speed of the game. It was fast and physical and without being there before it’s hard to simulate that. If you come into an atmosphere like this and are at all tentative or a little rattled, that’s what happens. By the time we got used to the speed of the game, it was over.” Offensively, the Eagles couldn’t do much of anything. They never crossed Oakdale’s 30-yard line until their only scoring drive midway through the fourth quarter, culminating in a two-yard run by Josh Pfeffer. Vista’s receivers had trouble getting open further than 10 yards down the field and the offensive line didn’t give Young a lot of time. When he did have time, Young was unable to put the ball on target. Defensively, the Eagles played well at times, but the bigger, stronger Mustangs pretty much had their way, especially in the second half when they scored on their first three possessions to put the Eagles away. After the game, Jones addressed his team for the final time this season. “This is where (Oakdale) we want our program to be,” he said. “We want our program to be an elite program. We got outclassed tonight, but we made a lot of progress this season. Are we where we want to be as a program? No, but we want to strive to get better.” Star receiver Logan Smith emotionally spoke to the players who will be returning to the team next season. “You’ve got a great opportunity next year and I hope you learn from this,” Smith said. “You have a great opportunity to succeed if you never stop working. You’ve got great coaches here and if you listen to them they will take you where you want to go.” Linebacker Steven Gudino also spoke to his teammates. “I’ve never played with a better group of guys,” he said. “I love you guys.”