With a balanced attack and home field advantage, Escalon carved out a NorCal 4-AA bowl victory on Friday night, Dec. 2 at Engel Field, turning away Pleasant Valley of Chico by a 42-20 final.
Escalon got on the board first; the visiting Vikings won the toss but deferred and Escalon capitalized with a scoring drive to start the game. Quarterback Donovan Rozevink found Owen Nash wide open and the two connected on a 16-yard pass play for the touchdown. Talan Reider added the first of his six extra points on the night to give the Cougars a 7-0 lead with 8:17 to play in the first.
Escalon would score two more touchdowns in the second, two in the third and one in the fourth. Pleasant Valley scored in the second to trim the Cougar lead at the half to 21-7 and then scored two fourth quarter touchdowns in a late comeback attempt but fell well short.
Logan Anderson scored on a 13-yard reception and a 2-yard rush in the second quarter to put the Cougars up 21-0 before the Vikings got on the board on an 88-yard kickoff return.
A 21-yard rushing touchdown by Anderson in the third made it 28-7; a 31-yard rushing score by Ryker Peters made it 35-7. Peters, who had several punishing runs against the Vikings, went over 2,000 yards for the season in the victory.
Fourth quarter scoring saw Pleasant Valley get a 1-yard plunge to make it 35-13 as the 2-point conversion attempt failed and Peters put the final score of the night on the board for Escalon on another long run, the Cougars sealing the win, up 42-13 with under three minutes to play.
Pleasant Valley would tack on one more in the waning seconds but it was a NorCal trophy for the Cougars and the chance to play for the state title next week.
“Collective effort. This group is not defined by any one guy,” head coach Andrew Beam said of everyone contributing to the win. “Everybody is playing better football. This team has really grown across the board. The kids are practicing better, they’ve grown up a little bit … it’s funny how you can just catch fire in the middle of a season and kind of ride that wave.”
The win puts Escalon into the State Championship game next Saturday, Dec. 10 against Northwood High School of Irvine. The Cougars are scheduled to host the contest at Engel Field.
Look for the full story, photos and a preview of the state championship contest in the Dec. 7 issue of The Times.