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Historic Win, Title On Line Friday
The road to the Trans-Valley League varsity football title will roll through Escalon on Friday night.

In a monumental game at Engel Field, head coach Mark Loureiro will be in search of his 200th win, but - more important than that to the coach - his Cougars will be looking to defeat Modesto Christian in a battle for the TVL crown and the top seed and home field advantage in the playoffs.

It will not be easy.

Modesto Christian brings a high-scoring offense to town, averaging 54 points per game and 580 yards.

"They are the top ranked offense and they are so highly explosive on offense that it's scary," Loureiro admitted.

He had a chance to watch the Crusaders play on Friday night, when they put a 63-36 thumping on Hughson. Escalon had played on Thursday night at home in lieu of the Halloween observance on Friday, so coaches were able to watch the MC-Hughson game that night.

"They use a no huddle offense and they have one of the best players in the league, quarterback and free safety Isaiah Burse, he's definitely a Division I player and everything revolves around him," explained Loureiro. "Nobody gets to him, he's so elusive he makes you miss."

At 6-0, 180 pounds, Burse leads the red, white and blue Crusaders into battle and has a strong supporting cast that includes a stable of running backs, including Kevin Roya, 5-11, 185 and J.T. Teixeira, 6-2, 190. Other Modesto Christian notables are fullback/linebacker Pat White, 5-11, 215 and top linemen are Josh Cross, 5-11, 240 and Evan Schwartz, 5-11, 180.

"They start seven juniors and a sophomore on offense," Loureiro added. "They're not going anywhere."

Meaning, of course, that the Crusaders will be a force to be reckoned with for the next few years.

"They run the Wing T but they run it out of the shotgun and that really spreads the field," the coach explained. "That pushes the tempo, it's almost like a fast beak offense so we've got to have a good week of practice, we've got to tackle in the open field.

"If we're going to win this game, we have to make the tackles in the open field."

The Cougars will have to try to contain the multiple offensive weapons that MC brings to the field. The Crusaders have struggled some on defense but it hasn't been a problem, since they have been able to overcome that with their potent offense.

They come in at 3-0 in league play and are 7-1 overall. Head coach is Mike Parsons. Escalon, which hopes to bring Loureiro his historic win, stands at 3-0 in league and 8-0 overall this season.

Two years ago, MC beat Escalon at Engel Field for the league title. Last year, the Cougars returned the favor by defeating MC to take the title at their place. Now, to bring it full circle, Loureiro said the Cougars are looking to make their stand at the home field, and will bring their best effort on Friday night, working for the title at home.

"We're going to have to control the ball more, and control the clock," Loureiro said. "We can't let them score a lot."

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday.