Having completed a 4-0 run through the preseason, with two wins on the road and two at home, the Escalon varsity football Cougars know it’s about to get real.
The battle for the Trans-Valley League title starts on Friday night, Sept. 21 when the Cougars welcome the Hilmar Yellowjackets to Engel Field. Escalon had its league bye this past Friday, when all other teams in league faced off. Hilmar lost a close 23-21 contest to Ripon and comes in looking for a crucial victory, while the Cougars aim to make a statement with their first TVL contest.
“It came down to an onside kick with a minute to go,” Escalon first year head coach Andrew Beam said of the Ripon-Hilmar game.
Several varsity players and coaches from Escalon made the short trip to Ripon to watch the contest on their bye week as a way to help get better prepared.
“They have some very talented athletes,” Beam noted of Hilmar. “Their running back is very good, they have four offensive linemen returning up front, they have all the right pieces to have a good team.”
They also come in with a full roster of 40-plus players and about a dozen coaches.
“You have to bring your ‘A’ game,” Beam said of getting ready for a night of TVL football. “With that loss, their backs are against the wall and we know we’re going to get their best shot.”
Beam said several teams will be in contention for the league title this year – he counts the Cougars among them – and said every game is of major importance. A few players that were rested during the final preseason game against River City on Sept. 7 are eager to get back into the action and the coach said the players have been focused.
“We had a really good bye week and the kids are excited for the chance to participate in a big game,” Beam said.
Not to mention, it was the Yellowjackets who ended Escalon’s season last year in the playoffs, sending the Cougars home short of getting into the Section final and ending the career of longtime coach Mark Loureiro.
So revenge might play a factor in the game as well, he said, but added that this year’s Cougars are blending into a cohesive unit that is focused on the same goal, winning the game in front of them and not worrying about anything else but the opponent across the line of scrimmage.
The JV team will start the evening’s action with a 5:30 p.m. kickoff, the varsity game is due to start about 7:30 p.m.