Stunned by a last second first half touchdown that put them in a 27-20 hole, Escalon’s varsity football team responded in a big way in the second half.
They scored three unanswered touchdowns over the final two quarters to capture the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 6 title on Saturday. The Cougar win was a 41-27 final over defending Section champion and Trans-Valley League rival Hilmar. The 1 p.m. contest at Lincoln High School in Stockton on Nov. 30 saw a large crowd on both sides of the field, despite windy conditions and intermittent rain.
“Possibly the best feeling ever,” admitted senior Jacob Walden, one of this year’s team captains and an emotional leader for the squad, after collecting his Section champion hat and hoisting the blue banner.
It was an all-around effort for the Cougars, who bounced back from the late first half score by the Yellowjackets with a sustained drive after receiving the second half kickoff, taking that in for the tying score. The second half was dominated by the top seeded Cougars, who used a punishing ground attack up the middle of the field mixed with some outside runs and a few timely passes to capture the title that has eluded them the last several years.
Hilmar had the upper hand early, returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown, so the Cougars had to play from behind the entire first half. They were up to the task, however, and came out determined from the locker room at halftime. Both offense and defense made the difference, with a key interception from senior Kaidence Trejo stopping a Hilmar drive and ultimately leading to a score for the Cougars that would put the game away.
Look for the full story and photos in the Dec. 4 issue of The Times.