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Tough Preseason Begins Friday Night For Football

Friday night is in sight.

The Escalon varsity football team opens up the season on Friday night, Aug. 18. Escalon goes in to the campaign as the defending Division 4-AA state champion, knowing that every opponent is looking for the opportunity to defeat a championship squad and will bring their best effort to the field.

The Cougars head to Merced, where they will take on Golden Valley – also known as the Cougars – in the first game of the 2023 preseason campaign.

“They like to line up and run the football,” varsity head coach Andrew Beam said of Golden Valley. “They have some good-sized bodies and a lot of athletes.”

Add to that the triple digit heat of this week and playing on a turf field in Merced, Beam said it will be crucial for his players to be smart; stay hydrated and mentally and physically prepare for the battle ahead.

It will also be the first of many road games for the Escalon football program this season, as all levels will be on the road during the ongoing renovations at Engel Field.

“I think some of the guys are a little nervous,” Beam admitted, with several having to step up to fill bigger roles in the absence of the senior leaders who graduated in June.

But, like players before them, the coach said the team will look to get focused on the task at hand, week by week.

“Our schedule is way too tough to look at the next week,” Beam explained. “We challenge ourselves with our preseason schedule and there will always be challenges, always be goals. We’re always chasing something that can be achieved.”

While they are defending state champions, the coach noted that last year’s Cougars did not win the Trans-Valley League title, nor did they win their Homecoming game.

So those are a couple of goals they would like to reach this season.

A Friday night, Aug. 11 scrimmage at Gregori in Modesto was a good barometer of where the team is at, Beam said, and they definitely have some areas of the game to work on as they get ready for preseason and league action.

“When we put the decal on the helmet and wear the official jersey, it gets real,” Beam added. “We feel good.”

Game time for the varsity at Golden Valley is 7 p.m.; the JV will be on the field at 5 p.m.