Two teams that are both hungry will meet on Friday night in Ripon.
The host Indians have had the upper hand in the last few meetings with the Cougars on the gridiron – but Escalon would like nothing better than to get back in the win column against their rival.
“Ripon is 4-3 overall, they’re 1-1 in league and got beat by just one point, 42-41 by Modesto Christian, last week,” said Escalon head coach Mark Loureiro. “They played a real tough preseason including against powerhouse teams like Sonora and Sutter.”
Escalon, with wins in its first two league games, now stands at 2-0 in the Trans-Valley League and is also 4-3 overall.
Both teams want to add another TVL win to their record and, as Loureiro noted, Ripon will be the toughest task so far in league for his young squad.
“They are a very good 4-3 team and this is a pivotal game for them,” the coach said.
A loss would put the Indians at 1-2 in the TVL and facing a tough road to the postseason.
“Last year a couple of early turnovers made the difference,” Loureiro said of their loss to the Indians in 2016.
Coming off a Homecoming win – in which the Cougars nearly lost a big lead to a determined Mountain House squad – Loureiro said they need to clean up multiple areas of their game before taking the field on Friday night.
Team leaders for the Indians include quarterback Ryan Daggett, 6-1, 175; running backs Michael Winters, 5-9, 155; Roland Davis, 5-11, 155 and wide receiver/defensive back Tino Raygoza, 5-8, 185. Seeing double duty at running back and inside linebacker are Dylan Sexton, 5-10, 175 and Riley Machado, 5-11, 185. Top linemen are Mitchell Ulrich, 6-7, 275 and Owen Gollinger, 6-1, 270.
The Friday night match-up between Escalon and Ripon is one of two games with major playoff implications. Hilmar will take on Modesto Christian in the other contest that will see teams hoping to get to the postseason battling it out.
“It will be an exciting night in the TVL,” said Loureiro. “Once the games are over, the picture should be clearer.”
Loureiro said the team needs to stay focused this week in practice and put their best effort together to get a win on the road in the Oct. 20 contest.
“Escalon – Ripon doesn’t need any added motivation,” he added of getting up for the game. “There’s a ton to play for and it’s nice to be playing for it again. Once again it’s exciting … there’s a lot of electricity in the stands, on the campus, you can feel it. It’s exciting to be in the mix.”
Varsity kickoff will be about 7:30 p.m. Friday in Ripon.