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Cougars Break Bread, Banners Together
Taking team unity to a new level, the Escalon High varsity football team has a standing dinner date every Friday.

The squad eats together before every home game, treated to a meal at the nearby Escalon Community Center. They also get 'bag lunches' to take with them on the road, sharing a meal even for the away games.

It's a tradition that started several years ago and is just one of the things that players said makes suiting up for Escalon that much more special.

"We try to team up two families per game," said parent Cindy Largent of working to coordinate the meal service. "For home games it's lunch at the community center, for away games, it's 55 sack lunches."

The sack lunches typically include a sandwich, chips, banana, Gatorade and water, while the meals at the community center have ranged from tri tip to roast beef sandwiches.

"The players are so appreciative of it," Mrs. Largent said. "We still have a couple of games where we're short parents (to provide meals) so if some of the team parents out there would still like to volunteer, we can use the help."

A letter went out earlier this season to all football parents seeking support.

When they gather at the Community Center, the team members bow their heads and share a prayer, thankful for the food and community support.

"Thomas Martin did it last year," Mrs. Largent said of offering the prayer. "This year Travis Cardoza has taken that on."

Defensive leader Nick Largent said the team definitely sends a huge 'thank you' out to those parents taking part.

"Not enough appreciation can be shown to the parents," he said. "All that community support is just great ... we love it."

Cardoza, meanwhile, said sharing a meal with teammates - and for Homecoming, the cheerleaders as well - is not something that he takes for granted.

"There's a lot of family atmosphere," he said. "The parents do a wonderful job and there are not too many towns that get this ... that's a gift."

The team will play its final regular season game at home this Friday night and will gather at the Community Center for their meal at about 3:30 p.m.

Senior Zac Baker, who scored his first career touchdown in a big Cougar win against Ripon Christian on Oct. 16, said the pre-game meal has become a favorite ritual, noting that he doesn't eat at school that day so he can thoroughly enjoy the time with teammates.

"The parents are great and I really thank them for taking the time," he said.

Senior Tym Blair, also having an impact game on Friday, said the meals keep that team camaraderie in clear focus.

"It's good, everybody is more together," he said of sitting down to share the meal before heading out on the gridiron. "We're there for each other."

To volunteer to help provide an upcoming meal, contact Cindy Largent at 838-6176.

"They enjoy it, they appreciate it," Mrs. Largent said. "Even at the away games, they grab their sandwich and you get lots of hugs."