From the frying pan into the fire…
After battling to a 2-3 record in preseason action against some tough opponents, the Escalon Cougars varsity football team starts the Trans-Valley League season this week. They will be home for the Friday night contest, Oct. 7, welcoming the rival Hilmar Yellowjackets to Engel Field.
“They’re the preseason favorites, they return more kids than anybody and they were the league champs last year,” noted Escalon head coach Mark Loureiro.
All that adds up to a very tough task for a young Cougars team that has taken some lumps in the preseason, falling to Calaveras, Liberty Ranch and Patterson. The Cougars earned wins against Enochs and Liberty High School.
“This is the toughest part of our schedule,” the coach added, with the game against Hilmar rounding out a trio of contests with Liberty Ranch out of Galt, Patterson and Hilmar.
The green and gold Yellowjackets are coached by Frank Marques and went 4-1 during their preseason schedule, defeating Beyer, Lathrop, Gustine and Livingston. Their lone loss came against Sonora.
“Three weeks ago, I would have told you we didn’t have a chance,” Loureiro admitted of taking on the Hilmar squad. “But I felt we really improved over the last two ball games. We just can’t make the little mistakes that have hurt us in the past.”
The Cougars will also have to be dialed in both offensively and defensively, as the Yellowjackets look to exploit one-on-one match ups.
Both teams have been busy reviewing films and getting game plans in place.
For Hilmar, the team is anchored by the “best running back in the league,” Loureiro said, in senior Cody Rentfro (5-11, 185), a returning All-TVL player at running back and strong safety. Quarterback Chase Kindberg (6-2, 170) returns as well, with top receivers Klay Farris (6-3, 165) and Kelby Peres (5-10, 160) on his radar. Joey Pereira (6-1, 210) is a two-way starter on the line, with Ethan Jones (6-4, 295) also helping shore up the line.
“They have great team speed to the ball,” Loureiro said. “They spread the field well, they try to get those one on one match ups … we will have to have our best effort.”
Kickoff for the varsity game will be about 7:30 p.m. on Friday.