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Friday Night Football Title Battle On Gridiron
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Like it has for the past couple of years, the battle for the Trans-Valley League football crown comes down to the showdown between Escalon and Modesto Christian.

While Escalon was shutting out Riverbank 56-0 on Oct. 30, Modesto Christian was roughing up Hughson, 65-0. Both teams are capable of putting points on the board. The question is which team can put a stop to the offensive onslaught.

Both teams come in to Friday night's game at Modesto Christian with a 3-0 mark in league and both are a perfect 8-0 on the season. Escalon has shut out each of its Trans-Valley League opponents so far. That isn't likely to happen against the Crusaders, with a fully loaded offense primed for the battle and eager to take the crown away from the two-time defending TVL champion Cougars.

The game will be on the road, the second of three away games for the Escalon squad. They handled Riverbank but now must play their toughest game to date, also on the road. Ripon will then host the Cougars in the regular season finale on Nov. 13 and the Indians have lost only to MC in league play. They are coming off a big 50-6 win over Ripon Christian.

"The biggest challenge is we have to slow down the highest profile offense in the league," said Escalon head coach Mark Loureiro. "They are running smoothly. The key is to slow the game down, control the tempo."

Escalon's offense can be its best defense in this situation, Loureiro said, by keeping the ball out of the hands of the Modesto Christian offensive machine.

"We can't get into a shootout with them," he said.

Leading the Crusaders is reigning TVL MVP Isaiah Burse, a versatile quarterback who comes in at 6-0, 180. He is also their leading rusher and is being heavily recruited by colleges.

"He's the top quarterback in the whole area," Loureiro said.

One of his favorite go-to rushers in David Sjelin, 5-11, 185, in addition to all-league safety and running back Kevin Roya, 5-9, 190. Another weapon is running back/free safety Aaron Brown, 5-9, 170 and top linemen include all-leaguer Evan Schwartz, 6-0, 190; Ray Nelson, tight end/defensive line, 6-5, 230 and lineman Tyler Jamison, 6-3, 240.

Defensive back and running back Keaton Engel, 5-7, 150, sees action on both sides of the ball and a top receiver is split end Dustin Hayes, 6-3, 195.

Head coach for the red, white and blue Crusaders is Mike Parsons.

"This game has been for the title and we've won it the last two years," Loureiro said.

He knows - as do his players and coaches - that Modesto Christian is more than ready to take that title away. Keeping it will take the effort of every player, giving their best.

"Both teams are 8-0," Loureiro added.

The Cougars will have to be sharp on defense, making those open field tackles to keep the explosive MC offense in check. The Escalon squad will also have to utilize all its weapons, the running, passing and kicking game, to get into the end zone.

Seating is limited and a packed house is anticipated for the Friday night showdown, so fans are advised to arrive early.

"This will be a great football game," said Loureiro. "This is what everyone is waiting for."