It will be an all Trans-Valley League battle for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division 6 football title.
The Cougars and Yellowjackets, a pair of TVL rivals, will meet for the title on Saturday, Nov. 30 at Lincoln High School in Stockton. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
Escalon, the top seed in the division, used a strong second half keyed by their defense to take down the No. 5 seed, Sonora, 40-14 on Friday night, Nov. 22. Meanwhile Hilmar, the No. 2 seed, defeated No. 3 Ripon Christian by a 47-28 decision on the other side of the bracket to set up the all-TVL showdown.
“It’s big boy football,” Beam told his players in their post-game huddle on Friday night, noting that this week is filled with practices, family time for turkey on Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, and then the football game on Saturday.
For Escalon, they relish the chance to take on Hilmar again; the Yellowjackets are the defending D6 Section champions and also claimed the D6AA state title last season.
“This is special and I want the kids to enjoy it,” Beam told The Times. “Playing on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.; that’s how it was for so many years, we’ve seen Hilmar multiple times in the championship game.”
After a long history of advancing to the finals, the Cougars have suffered through a bit of a drought.
“It has been seven years since we’ve been there,” explained Beam. “Nine since we’ve won the whole thing and we really want to give ourselves a chance to put up a blue banner.”
The head coach is also asking for the community to turn out and support the team; Escalon will be the home team for the contest at Lincoln.
“Wear purple, be loud, that helps us, that energizes our kids,” Beam said.
He pointed to a huge lift from the crowd in the semifinal game and said he would love to see that type of effort again from the fans.
“This is the game everyone wants to see,” Beam added of the rivalry. “We’re very familiar with each other.”
During the regular season, Escalon topped the Yellowjackets by a 34-21 final on the road in a game played in late September.
Now, the teams come in to the Section final with one goal in mind, each wanting to hoist the blue banner at the end of the game.
“It’s going to come down to who doesn’t turn the ball over, who tackles better,” Beam said. “Defense wins championships.”