By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Friday Night Looms Large
There won't be a Trans-Valley League championship this year for Escalon's football Cougars, but the bigger prize is still out there.

After a 21-16 loss on the road at Modesto Christian on Friday, Nov. 6 (see Sports, page A13) the team has to get re-focused and look to the TVL season finale at Ripon and beyond to the playoffs.

"Learn from this defeat," Escalon head coach Mark Loureiro told his players as they huddled up on the Modesto Christian field after falling short in their bid to repeat as TVL champions. "There's nothing good about losing. A win against Ripon gets us a home game in the playoffs."

That will be the next goal for the Cougars, as they travel to Ripon for the Nov. 13 contest. It will take a team effort to win, as the Indians come in to the contest with the same 3-1 mark in league play as the Cougars. Like Escalon, Ripon's only league loss of the season has come to Modesto Christian, which remains perfect in league at 4-0 and finishes the campaign against Ripon Christian.

As disappointing as the loss to MC was, Loureiro said the fact that the team was still in it in the fourth quarter was testament to how strong they are. Miscues cost the Cougars and it wasn't until a touchdown cut MC's lead to 21-10 that he felt the team "woke up" and started playing solid football.

"Let this thing go," he advised players upset with the loss. "Learn from our mistakes, they will make us a better team."

Quarterback Spencer Franceschetti said the Cougars hurt themselves, and didn't capitalize when they got a fumble recovery late in the game, setting up a possible winning drive.

"I thought we had a chance, we were blessed with another opportunity," he said of getting the fumble. "But there were a lot of mental breakdowns. We had a touchdown called back in the first half, there were a lot of penalties."

The loss to Modesto Christian was the first time the Cougars have tasted defeat all season. It just made Franceschetti hungrier for a win.

"Work and desire," he said of the ingredients needed to get back in the win column against the Indians on Friday night.

Jason Diniz, who was the leading rusher for Escalon against MC, agreed that the team needs to come to the field with a better effort this week.

"We dug ourselves a hole but our season is not over," Diniz said. "We're going to the playoffs and we've got to start practicing hard."

The Indians, for their part, are eager to prove something against Escalon and Loureiro and his crew know that.

"Ripon has been sitting back for two weeks waiting for this, it's a perfect spot for Ripon to be ready and it's a great test for us," Loureiro said.

The red and white Indians are under the direction of head coach Chris Johnson. They are 7-2 overall and are coming off a 63-0 win against Riverbank, in the midst of their best season ever.

Key players are returning All-Leaguer and leading rusher Nick Curtice, 5-10, 180; offensive/defensive lineman Hart Yoshida, 5-8, 190; lineman Andy Bunting, 6-1, 225; quarterback Alex Gustin, 5-6, 155.

"They're fighting to get a better seed for playoffs," Loureiro noted of the game implications. "The winner will get a home game for the first round of playoffs and bragging rights for River Road."

Game time Friday night is 7:30 p.m.