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Parade, Ceremonies Honor Achievement
Proudly hoisting the championship trophy, members of the Escalon High varsity football team were recognized at a downtown parade in their honor on Thursday, Jan. 20.

The celebration marked the 2010 State Division III Football championship won by the Cougars in a 30-14 victory over the Madison Warhawks of San Diego at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California on Saturday, Dec. 18.

Hosting the parade was the City of Escalon, with Mayor Danny Fox and other dignitaries making presentations to the team and head coach Mark Loureiro. Serving as emcee for the parade was the 'voice of the Cougars,' Greg Largent.

Prior to the parade, a rally at Escalon High included the unveiling of a new championship banner hanging in the gym, and the presentation of California Legislative 'Sports Awards' to each member of the winning team by 26th District State Assemblyman Bill Berryhill. Each player was introduced at the rally, and presented with the certificate, with commemorative plaques also presented to Loureiro from the school and city.

After the unveiling of the banner, students were excused and then the parade formed up on Coley Avenue, taking off along the traditional parade route.

The crowd lined both sides of Main Street to cheer on the team, with on stage presentations including a song by EHS alum Annie Mulry written especially for the Cougars following their victory, and additional remarks by Mayor Fox, Assemblyman Berryhill, along with District 4 San Joaquin County Supervisor Kin Vogel and Escalon High senior Brandon Shaw, one of this year's team captains.

Shaw thanked the community on behalf of his teammates, saying how much they appreciated the people that made the trip to Carson, as well as those that supported them throughout the year and were there to welcome them home to the EHS campus the night of Dec. 18.

"Major overwhelming," Coach Loureiro added as he took the microphone to acknowledge the crowd and thank the community for the celebration, noting that the football season ran from early August to mid-December and encompassed the entire city. "It's amazing how many people in this town this win affected."

Loureiro said the win was a case of city vs. country, and the Cougars brought their "country strong" mentality - and their fans - along with them.

"Escalon brought more fans, more than any other level, more than any other school, to a championship game," Loureiro told the crowd, which roared at the news.

The Escalon High journalism crew put out a 'special edition' of the Cougar Chronicles newspaper, highlighting the championship game, with crowd members eagerly devouring the pages waiting for the parade to start. Nearly everyone was sporting a purple and gold Cougar paw necklace on purple and gold beads, handed out courtesy of the City of Escalon, and organizers are talking about more fundraisers to help members of the championship team purchase commemorative rings.

The See's Candy sale is on, purple and gold championship bracelets will arrive soon, players can be 'sponsored' for a ring and Thursday was 'Dine Out Night' at several restaurants, donating a portion of their proceeds to the effort.

Now, local businessman Phil Bava is working in cooperation with Rosa's Bakery to add to the fundraising campaign. For each 375ml bottle of Bava Family Grove Olive Oil purchased at Rosa's (next door to D'Boni's on Jackson Avenue) a $5 donation will be made to the ring fund, now through the end of February. Just mention the fundraiser upon purchase.

"Cougars forever," said Bava.

Loureiro said the turnout for the Thursday parade continued to show how much the championship run unified the community.

"Let's enjoy this. It's not just about Escalon football. It's about all of us, the high school, the community," Loureiro said. "There's no place like home ... and there's no place like Escalon."