More than six months after securing the State Championship on the football field, members of the Escalon Cougars varsity football team got their championship rings.
The hardware was a long time in coming … delayed somewhat by the COVID-19 pandemic … but players attending a special informal barbecue and ring ceremony said it was worth the wait.
Presenting the rings was varsity head football coach Andrew Beam, who hosted the ceremony and had several assistant coaches on hand as well.
Escalon’s varsity football team played their way to a 14-1 campaign in 2019, and they capped it off with a State Championship. As the schedule fell, the state title game was played right at home, on Engel Field, giving the Cougars the chance to ‘bring home’ the championship in front of their hometown fans. The Cougars defeated the La Jolla Vikings by a final score of 52-21 on Saturday, Dec. 14 and were presented with the Division 4A State Football Trophy.
Now, they have their individual State Championship Rings to go along with it.
Players and coaches received their rings this past week.
Each picked up the box with their name on it and had to wait for the signal from their coach so they could all open them at the same time. A chorus of “oohs” and “ahhs” emanated from the players as they got their first look at the shiny showpieces.
“It’s pretty awesome, unbelievable,” said Brayan Barrientos.
“Hard work pays off,” added Isael Gallo, admiring the ring on his finger.
Jacob Walden served as one of the team captains this past season and said seeing the ring brought back a rush of memories from the unforgettable campaign.
“I think it’s awesome and I don’t even know where to start. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of it,” he said of that championship feeling. “It makes everything worth it.”
Player Roman Gonzales agreed that the ring summarizes all the hard work put in by the players for years before they even got to the varsity level.
“We were seven-years-old, playing Outlaws,” he said of starting his football career. “Eleven years later, we end with a bang.”
“I think it was worth the wait,” agreed co-captain David Camacho. “I never thought hard work would look so pretty.”
Coach Beam said he was glad that the players were able to gather for one final time to celebrate their championship season together. Assistant coaches able to attend were offensive/defensive line coach Frosty Van Houten, defensive coordinator Brandon Hoover, linebackers coach Nick Largent, offensive line coach Joe Cowan, and wide receivers/defensive backs coach Alec VonAlvensleben.
“It’s a final closing to this chapter,” Beam said. “We had to wait a little longer than we wanted but seeing that ring, it brings back the memories, it gave me chills, a reminder of all those things.”
The football team for the 2020-21 school year has just started limited conditioning.
“We hope and pray they get to get back on the field one more time,” Beam said, noting that the juniors from last year’s team are ready to step up and take on that leadership role. “We need sports back in our lives.”
Most of the players were able to attend the ceremony, with Beam making sure those that were not in attendance did get their rings.
“They definitely turned out better than I thought,” said co-captain Kaden Christensen. “This was a crazy year, but it was nice to get to see everybody and now we can finally close that chapter the right way. This group of guys is always going to be friends, we have that bond.”