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Marg-Ins Bring It On
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Like most weeks, I am running behind. Yes, I'm sure you are all shocked. Don't tell my reporters, but the column they have to turn in to me by Friday noon when it's their turn to occupy this spot, usually gets written on Saturday or Sunday when it's my week. Actually, they probably already know - or at least suspect - that, since everyone lets me know they see my car here on the weekends.

Also, by waiting until the weekend to write this time, I can reflect on the Friday night finales for the Oakdale and Escalon football teams. Central Catholic steamrolled Escalon and proved yet again why private schools (can you say 'recruitment?') need a league of their own, while Oakdale was shocked by the visiting Placer team. Both squads ended their seasons, the Cougars losing for the first - and last - time in their 2008 campaign as Central won the right to move on to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V title game at UOP. Oakdale's postseason, delayed by a week due to court action that resulted in Placer becoming their opponent over Colfax, was stopped in the first round and now hangs up the helmets and shoulder pads for another season.

As tough as it was to see Escalon's season slip away at Engel Field on Friday night, I watched with admiration as senior players worked to keep the spirits up on the sidelines, urging their teammates to stay behind the guys on the field, to show their 'Cougar pride' and end the game, and the season, with their heads held high.

At 11-1 overall, winning the Trans-Valley League championship with a perfect 5-0 record, and earning head coach Mark Loureiro his 200th career victory with a win over league rival Modesto Christian, this year's Cougars have plenty to be proud of and they played their hearts out each week for the Cougar faithful, whether it was at home or at some far away venue.

Likewise, after a slow start that had some naysayers spelling doom when they began the preseason with a pair of losses, Oakdale's varsity Mustangs put together a stellar run in the Valley Oak League, winning that crown by going undefeated in the league campaign and closing out with an 8-3 mark. In fact, this year's class of seniors has the unique distinction of not losing a Valley Oak League game during their four years of Mustang football, winning titles as freshmen, sophomores and two years at the varsity level.

The silver lining in Escalon's loss, for me, is that now I can be on hand for my daughter's competitive soccer league tournament, which will be Saturday and Sunday. Had Escalon made it to UOP for the Dec. 6 title game, there was no question that was where I had to be. It was agonizing, however, knowing I would miss at least one and maybe both of her games on Saturday. Now, there is no such conflict and I can be on the sidelines to cheer the girls on as they do battle, looking for a medal to cap off a successful league season.

This past weekend, though, was one of taking a deep breath after the rush of Thanksgiving. Now it's time to look ahead and - brace yourself -realize that it's only three weeks 'til Christmas.

You know time is flying by when even your 12-year-old marvels at "how fast this year has gone."

Thanksgiving was a pleasant holiday, spending some time volunteering and then devoting at least an equal amount of time to eating and visiting with family and friends. Thankfully, someone else cooked up the turkey and ham and I just had to provide a couple of side dishes and a dessert for the festivities.

Like some of my co-workers, I also briefly considered getting up way before the crack of dawn to hit those 4 a.m. Black Friday sales but the turkey kicked in and I didn't even want to get up when it was time to go to work, much less several hours sooner to face off with coupon-clipping, sales-seeking hordes of people.

So the Christmas shopping? I'll probably get to that around The 12th of Never, the way my December schedule is shaping up ... so if you're on my gift or card list, don't expect to see anything until early 2009.

Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times and The Oakdale Leader and assistant editor for The Riverbank News. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.