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Second Season - Playoffs Start Friday
Playing some of their best football of the season, the Escalon Cougars want to keep it going.

But the regular season is over. Escalon, with its 10-0 record, now stands with 15 other teams in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV football playoff bracket and the slate is wiped clean.

"Everybody's 0-0 and it's win or go home," Escalon head coach Mark Loureiro said.

The playoffs start Friday night, Nov. 11 and the Cougars, with their seventh perfect record in school history in hand, open the second season at home by virtue of taking the Trans-Valley League title and the No. 1 seed.

The varsity squad closed out a successful run in league play with a thorough 69-7 thrashing of Modesto Christian at Engel Field on Nov. 4 (See story, photos in Sports, page A15) and now gear up for what they hope will be a long playoff run.

The top four seeds are Escalon, Colfax, Hilmar, Argonaut, which Loureiro said makes for a tough top tier.

Escalon and Argonaut are on the same side of the bracket, Hilmar and Colfax are top seeds on the other.

First round match ups include No. 1 Escalon vs. No. 16 Marysville; No. 8 Sonora hosting No. 9 Bear River; No. 5 Central Catholic hosting No. 12 Modesto Christian and No. 4 Argonaut hosting No. 13 Orestimba on one side of the bracket.

The other side has No. 3 Hilmar hosting No. 14 Linden, No. 6 Ripon hosting No. 11 Livingston, No. 7 Liberty Ranch (Galt) hosting No. 10 Calaveras and No. 2 Colfax hosting No. 15 Dixon. Escalon and Colfax both went 10-0 to grab the top two seeds, guaranteeing themselves home field advantage in their respective brackets.

Marysville, at 4-6, comes in to Escalon as the second place team in the Golden Empire League. They closed out their league season with a 40-12 win over Mesa Verde.

"They run before they pass," Loureiro said. "They have a 5-3 defense, we have seen that, and they have a one man wrecking crew of a fullback that we will have to contain."

Cole Hannum is that player, the 6-2, 220-pound fullback/linebacker rushing for 1,600-plus yards and 20 touchdowns.

"He is their main guy," said Loureiro.

The Marysville team also lists Jack Thome, running back/linebacker, 5-11, 185 and quarterback Shaine Pinney, 6-0, 155 as its main players. Top receiver is Mac Asurmendi, 6-1, 185; top linemen are Justin Nygard, 5-7, 170 and Chris Montgomery, 5-9, 180.

The Indians, under head coach Cullen Meyer, were 3-2 in the Golden Empire League and will make the long drive to Escalon for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Friday, Nov. 11.

Ticket prices for the playoff games are $9 for adults, $5 for students. Student body cards will not get a discount for the playoff games.

"Gates will open at 5:45 p.m.," Loureiro said, noting that players and coaches are looking for a show of support for the team to get them started on the playoff run.

He said his team is geared up for what lies ahead and are approaching the task with determination and dedication.

"This group has been looking at this for a while," Loureiro explained of getting into the second season. "I anticipate us to rise to the occasion. We have a lot of returners who know how to get ready, our practices will elevate this week and I'm hoping you'll see our best football now."

Escalon is the reigning Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV champion and also goes in as the defending Division III State champion.

"Let's get on the ride," Loureiro said. "We're going to take it as far as we can go."