A road trip to Hilmar this week has plenty of implications.
Escalon’s varsity football team will look to get a Trans-Valley League win – although in a tough stadium against a tough opponent – on Friday night, Sept. 30 and it could be a turning point in the season.
After compiling a 3-1 mark in the preseason against some top contending teams in the state, Escalon sputtered in its Homecoming game, falling to the energized Hughson Huskies, 29-14 on Sept. 16.
Escalon had its bye week on Sept. 23 so the team has had a couple of weeks to stew on the loss. Hughson, meanwhile, went on to defeat Livingston 41-20 on Sept. 23 to improve to 2-0 in Trans-Valley League action. Hilmar was a 34-14 winner over Ripon on Sept. 23, coming off an opening week win, 35-0, against Livingston, putting the Yellowjackets at 2-0 as well.
Escalon, 0-1 in league, needs to get focused on the game and the big picture, said varsity head coach Andrew Beam.
“We have to try to be as prepared as possible, keep our focus,” Beam said. “Getting our season back on track starts with a win on Friday night.”
Beam noted that the Hilmar-Ripon contest was close until midway through the third quarter, when the Yellowjackets took control.
“I thought Hilmar was going to blow Ripon out,” Beam admitted, adding that the contest just showed that “any game in the TVL” is likely to be a battle.
Beam said it has also been a strange year for the Cougars in that each week has seen a couple of players battling illness and they have also taken some early season injuries. But there can’t be any excuses, he noted, and the varsity team has to put forth its best effort.
“It will be all hands on deck,” Beam said. “I think Friday will be a proving ground for every single player we’ve got. I’m hoping we see an enthusiasm and energy that maybe we didn’t bring against Hughson.”
The battle for playoff positioning is well underway and if the Cougars want to stay in that conversation, they will have to bring the ‘A’ game, which includes working together and staying positive, picking each other up and having each other’s backs.
“We are backed into a corner, admitted Beam. “We’ll see how we respond.”