Friday night will be the end of an era.
And if you want to be part of it, get there early.
After spending 28 years as head coach of the Escalon varsity football Cougars, Mark Loureiro will coach in his final regular season home game, leading his team on to Engel Field for a Trans-Valley League game against longtime rival Hughson on Friday night, Nov. 3.
The Cougars will assure themselves a share of the TVL title and a trip to the playoffs with a victory. It will be Senior Night, with recognition for senior players and cheerleaders, the last regular season game for Loureiro to stalk the sidelines … there will be plenty of distractions but the coach said there’s too much at stake for the team to get caught up in all of that.
The varsity squad – and Loureiro – would like nothing better than to cap this season off with a win, a return to the playoffs and another TVL title.
Still, the coach and high school teacher knows it won’t be an easy week.
“I walked on to that field in 1963 as a ball boy for my dad when he was coaching and I never left,” Loureiro said. “From ball boy to doing stats, then as a player, then as a coach.”
The only time he did leave Escalon was when he was in college – but he returned to teach and coach at his alma mater.
“To be honest, it’s going to be a tough week for me, it’s going to be an emotional week,” Loureiro admitted. “But it’s time. I’m looking to retire from teaching, retire from coaching. My younger guys have waited patiently for their turn … it’s time.”
Loureiro said a conversation he had not long ago focused on what he termed ‘QTL’ – Quality Time Left – and he said he wants to make sure to devote time to family, including grandchildren, and taking a breather after years of indulging in his “crazy passion” of football.
“I’ll be going from 125 miles per hour down to 10 miles per hour,” he said. “It scares me, but it’s time.”
He also said it definitely is setting up as an exciting night, with the Huskies coming to town looking to grab a win, while the Cougars want to extend their coach’s career with a win and a trip to the postseason.
Loureiro also said he would like to see the stands filled – noting some disappointment in the turnout for a big game against Modesto Christian this past Friday, a game the Cougars won decisively.
“Don’t give up on these kids,” he said. “Come out and see this game, we win, we get a piece of the title. I appreciate the great support I have had from the community, the school, the fans over the years … let’s finish this thing right; it’ll take the whole town. We’ve got a lot to play for.”
Kickoff for the varsity game will be about 7:30 p.m.; the JV game starts at 5:30 p.m.