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Honors Keep Coming For 2010 Cougars
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More than two months after their thrilling win of the state's Division III CIF State Football Championship, the 2010 Escalon Cougars are still in the spotlight. A trip to the state Capitol for recognition on the Assembly floor, and a visit to a Sacramento Kings game are recent kudos, while yet to come is the honoring of the team collectively as the 'Team of the Year' at the upcoming Stanislaus County 'Outstanding Athlete Awards' Banquet.

"It's like the season is never going to end," admitted head coach Mark Loureiro, whose Cougars defeated Madison of San Diego by a 30-14 final in a Dec. 18 contest in Carson, California.

The Thursday, Feb. 24 trip to Sacramento was one that Loureiro said was memorable.

"It was great, all the kids were able to make it except two," he said. "We got to go on the floor, have a picture taken with Assemblyman Bill Berryhill."

Berryhill extended the invitation to the Cougars to Sacramento, where they were recognized and honored for the achievement. Berryhill had also introduced a resolution in recognition of the state championship team.

"This is something that some kid might not otherwise have the chance to do," Loureiro said of taking advantage of the invitation to tour the Capitol. "They got to poke their heads into the Governor's office, got to see the legislature and actually get recognized on the legislative floor."

The team also had the chance earlier to travel together to be saluted at a Sacramento Kings professional basketball game, and will again be honored on Wednesday, March 16 at the Sportsmen of Stanislaus Club in neighboring Modesto.

"It's the first time ever that a school in San Joaquin County is being chosen for the Team of the Year," said Loureiro.

Officials with the SOS Club note that since many of the teams the Cougars battle against in the Trans-Valley League are in Stanislaus County, and because of the positive impact the Escalon win had on the entire Central Valley, they were voted to receive the award.

Loureiro has been tapped as guest speaker for the event, which will also include honorees receiving the First Lt. Daniel B. Hyde Memorial Award, Jay Pattee Memorial Award and Darell Phillips Award.

This is the 44th annual OAA, Outstanding Athlete Awards, and the program was created to recognize students and adult athletes alike, along with those who have contributed to athletics in the region.

There will be a social hour at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. and awards immediately following. Ticket prices are $30 for adults, $25 for students.

"Our kids will be provided for," Loureiro said of team members being treated to the dinner, "but if their parents want to come, they will have to pay."

Through all of it, the coach noted, the best part has been being able to spend time with the team that grew together throughout the season, that bonded with each other and their coaches, working toward that common goal of being the best.

"That was the most fun, riding on the bus to the Capitol, just having everyone back together again, we ate lunch as a group," said Loureiro. "It's just that bond you have, you care about these kids, not only as athletes, but as people."

For information on the dinner or to get tickets, contact Andrea Zipser at the SOS Club, 578-5801, ext. 139.