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Crowd Pays Respects, Enjoys Cougar Victory
Varsity football team members burst through the Escalon Cougars banner at the start of the first home game of the season on Friday night, Sept. 4. The host team battled visiting Calaveras on the gridiron to take a 14-6 victory off the field. Marg Jackson/The Times


As they do before each home football game during the season, members of the Escalon American Legion Colorguard marched on to Engel Field on Friday night to present the colors.

Prior to the playing of the National Anthem, however, PA announcer Greg Largent asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of longtime Escalon High teacher and coach, Pete Arellano, who passed away in June. Following retirement, Arellano was still a familiar face at the school, regularly attending all sporting events and helping coordinate the annual girls basketball tournament in December. He had also served as a ‘spotter’ for Largent in the booth at football games for years and was an active member of the Escalon Lions Club.

Following the brief tribute and the anthem, the crowd was treated to a home victory, as the varsity Cougars got past visiting Calaveras by a final score of 14-6. (See story, photos in Sports, Page A7.)

For Garrett Nebe, the difference in the home game victory as opposed to a season opening road loss last week at Patterson was the approach.

“Energy level, high intensity,” Nebe said of what changed for the team, as they brought a more focused attack to the home field. “We felt like we needed to win this one and it was immensely satisfying.”

Calaveras did score first – on their opening drive – but never found the end zone again. Escalon scored late in the second quarter and late in the fourth to take the win.

“We were able to control the ball,” added Logan Widmer, who had another stellar game defensively with a pair of sacks. “It feels great to get the team going, next week, we just have to keep doing what we’re doing.”

The Cougars will head to Angels Camp on Friday night for a date with the Bret Harte Bullfrogs, a game that will be played on turf and could be tough, given the forecast for triple digits the rest of the week.

Junior quarterback Dylan Azevedo said it was important to win, to shake off any first-year varsity nerves and stay focused.

“No nerves, not once we get in the game, once I take that first snap I am good to go,” he said. “We came to play tonight, we wanted to play well at home.”

Azevedo threw for a touchdown and also had some big first down passes to favorite target Sam Lattig.

Senior Hunter Calton, who had the bulk of the ball carries on Friday night and got in for a score, said the team knew no Cougar varsity squad had gone 0-2 to start a season in years and they weren’t going to break the streak.

“It feels great to win,” Calton admitted. “We didn’t want to be the first team to go 0-2 in forever.

“We didn’t have a great practice week,” he added. “The first half was tough, we couldn’t seem to get our blocking down but the second half we did good, we were able to run.”

Escalon looks to keep the run game going against a tough opponent in Bret Harte and head coach Mark Loureiro said they will be up to the challenge, hoping to come back with another victory in hand from the Sept. 11 contest.