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Friday Night Contest Crucial In TVL Race
Vaca 10-11
This shows just one side of the new Vaca Bowl trophy, designed and created by local resident Danny Medina, to be presented for the first time on Friday night, Oct. 13 to the winner of the bowl game pitting Escalon and Hilmar. The Yellowjackets are featured on the other side; the trophy will be engraved with the final score and go home with the winner of the contest each year. Photo Contributed

To say there’s a lot riding on Friday night’s varsity football game would be an understatement.

Escalon, coming in at 6-1 overall and 2-0 in Trans-Valley League play, has wins over Hughson and Modesto Christian so far in league. Hilmar, at 5-2, has steamrolled Livingston and Ripon so far in the TVL and is looking to gain the upper hand over the Cougars.

“You win, you guarantee essentially a tie for the league title,” Escalon head coach Andrew Beam said of the upcoming Oct. 13 contest, with the winner also having the inside track to an outright championship, as Hilmar and Escalon look to be the class of the TVL this season.

Hilmar, with standout junior quarterback Caden Bailey making a bid to repeat as the league’s most outstanding offensive player, will be hard to contain. He is fast, athletic and can hurt opponents both with his arm and his legs.

Beam said it will be the toughest test in league, by far, for his Cougars this season.

It also is now an official ‘bowl game’ and comes with a trophy for the winner, designed and created by local resident and football dad Danny Medina.

“With this game being what it has been, from the 2000’s on, the rivalry between Hilmar and Escalon, it seemed fitting to have a rivalry trophy,” Beam explained.

The game is being called the Vaca Bowl and this year will be the inaugural game in the bowl series, with the trophy going to the winner of the bowl each year, complete with the game score, winner and year engraved on the trophy. It was made out of an old milk can, said Beam.

“It’s called the Vaca Bowl, which is Portuguese for the ‘cow’ bowl,” explained the coach. “It really is very representative of the two dairy communities; Danny Medina took an old milk can and he really did a great job in creating this trophy.”

The Escalon side of the trophy features the Cougar logo and the saying “Tradition Never Graduates” while the Hilmar side has the Yellowjacket logo and the words “The Tradition Continues.”

Rules of the Vaca Bowl trophy are also included, with the Vaca Bowl Game to be held during the regular season each year when Escalon and Hilmar meet. The winning team of the Vaca Bowl will have possession of the trophy until the next Vaca Bowl game and the trophy must be present at each Vaca Bowl Game. If the team with the trophy loses possession, the trophy must be exchanged from head coach to head coach at the end of the game handshake.

Escalon is coming in off a 55-14 thrashing of Modesto Christian on Oct. 6 and Beam said while he was able to use a lot of the second unit players for much of that game, the Cougars still have several players nursing a variety of injuries.

“Hilmar’s getting healthy at the right time,” Beam said. “For us, it will be really important for guys to step up and fill some spots. All of a sudden, we’re in a little bit of hurt.”

The teams are meeting at a time when the Yellowjackets appear to be peaking, Escalon has several starters that are question marks for Friday night, depending on how well they bounce back from those injuries.

Beam said the game is a home contest for Escalon and will be played at Modesto Junior College; entry is by GoFan only, with tickets having to be purchased prior to the game. There will be no ticket sales at the gate. It also is Tiny Cougar night, with dozens of young cheerleaders taking the field to do a routine with their older counterparts.

Beam said he’s hopeful the varsity team can put aside the various distractions and focus on the contest. The JV game starts at 5 p.m., varsity at 7 p.m.

The trophy up for grabs at this inaugural Vaca Bowl, is “dedicated to the athletes of Escalon High and Hilmar High Schools past and present who not only work hard on the football field but also in the classroom and home on the Farm,” the plaque on the side of the new trophy reads. “It is also dedicated to the Escalon and Hilmar parents, businesses and communities in agriculture past and present whose contributions help make these football programs as successful as they are today.”

Beam said the milk can is a unique tribute and one that the Cougars would definitely like to take home to put on display.

“It’s fitting for these two towns to have something like this,” Beam said. “It’s going to be fun.”