By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Cougars Roll Over Thunder, 37-0
You could call it 'the hit heard 'round the section' and no one would argue.

The first play from scrimmage for the visiting Buhach Colony Thunder on Friday night was stopped - decisively - on a hit by Nick Largent, so hard against running back Dallon Muse that his helmet is probably still reverberating back in his gym locker in Atwater.

It set the tone for a game that the host Cougars dominated against their Division I opponent and for the second time in as many seasons, Escalon defeated the Thunder. This time, however, the Buhach Colony squad did not even get into the end zone, shut out in a 37-0 contest by the fired up home team.

"That hit, it's even more vicious when you watch it on film," Loureiro said after reviewing the game film over the weekend. "It got the crowd into it and it was a bang ... that was their first play of the game and right there, we served notice."

Loureiro said his mindset heading in to the game was to keep it close, to not let the 3-0, previously undefeated Thunder get too much of a lead.

"My thought was get into a close game, have that home field, home crowd advantage, maybe catch a couple of breaks at the end," Loureiro said. "Never did I think we would dominate on both sides as much as we did."

Early jitters resulted in four Escalon penalties on their first drive of the game, but they had only a few more the rest of the way after getting rid of the butterflies. Defense was stellar from the start.

"We just had so much confidence on the defensive side," the coach agreed. "Offensively, we had 413 yards rushing and when you do that, you know your offensive line is getting the blocks, they did a great job."

Keying the line were Travis Cardoza, Nijoel Meyer, Victor Carrillo, Derrick DeFreitas, Jason Johnstad, J.D. Visser, Nick Largent and Chad Hale.

"Offensively, our backs all ran hard, Steve Silva had another outstanding night, 20 carries for 202 yards and three touchdowns, he had some real big carries, he ran wild," Loureiro said.

Grinding out some tough yards as well were Josh Miguel, 7 carries for 65 yards and Jason Diniz, 11 for 77.

"Spencer (Franceschetti) was four for seven in passing and he made them all count, including a huge pass to Largent that set up a score and a touchdown to Josh Miguel from 31 yards," Loureiro said.

The pass to Miguel was a pinpoint throw, splitting the defense for a score.

"I'm very proud of the kids, this was a big win for the team and our confidence, a big win for the school and the community," Loureiro said.

With Buhach running back Corey Chapman dealing with a sore ankle, his production dropped to just 30 yards on the night, on 12 carries.

"He had his chances, he carried 12 times but every time he got the ball we had guys there," Loureiro said, noting that the defense was up to the task of keeping the Thunder's leading rusher under control.

Muse, after the hit from Largent, was gun shy the rest of the way, not really wanting to have the ball in his hands.

As a team, Escalon dominated the game in every way. They held the Thunder to 79 yards total, a team that has been averaging 460 yards a game. The Cougars, meanwhile, rolled up 483 yards, including the 413 on the ground, with an attack that the Thunder could not stop.

"We just got big minutes from guys like James Hill, he had a big catch and played great defense, Tym Blair came in and played hard, Cordero Bryand, and Colin Keener led our special teams, plus he scored our first touchdown and came in a played linebacker.

"Coaches really like that when guys get the chance and step up."

After a scoreless first quarter, the Cougars scored 23 points in the second, with the 4-yard run by Keener and the point after by Jason Diniz good for a 7-0 lead. Silva scored on runs of 2 and 20 yards, with one kick good and one blocked, with Diniz also adding a 31-yard field goal for the 23-0 edge at the half.

Miguel pulled in the 31-yard pass in the third quarter with the kick good for a 30-0 lead and Silva scored again in the fourth quarter, on a 4-yard run, with the kick good for the 37-0 final.

Escalon was its own worst enemy early in the game because of the false start penalties, but Loureiro put that down to nerves.

"We had four (penalties) on the first drive and it just goes down to concentration," he said. "We had five penalties in the first quarter, just three the rest f the game."

The Cougars did have a touchdown run by Diniz called back on a penalty but he hit the field goal and more than once sent the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs to pin the Thunder at the 20-yard line to start possessions.

Largent paced the defensive effort with 11 tackles and DeFreitas had his strongest game as a Cougar with eight tackles and a massive effort inside.

"Our defensive outside backs, Brandon Shaw and David Gonzales, did a great job, they turned in a lot of things to the linebackers," Loureiro said of containing the Thunder running game.

Getting their hands on the ball late in the game for the Cougars were Mac Heard and Zac Baker, adding their names to the list of offensive players in the big win.

"They were a tough team," a tired but beaming Josh Miguel said after the game. "But our offensive line opened up holes all night for us."

He also pointed to the defensive effort, bottling up the fly sweep for the Thunder and keeping them out of the end zone.

"Everyone was making great plays," Miguel added. "We're all brothers out here."

Silva, once again the leading rusher, said it was important to get the win for "all those former players" that still come to sit in the stands every Friday night and cheer on the Cougars.

Quarterback Spencer Franceschetti said it came down to preparation, with the team watching film all week to learn the tendencies of the Buhach team and get as prepared as possible.

"They have players that can break it at any time," he said of the big play. "We just worked on recognizing the positions in the offense, lots of studying."

The study sessions obviously worked, as the Thunder could not get anything past the Cougars.

Center and defensive lineman Travis Cardoza agreed that Largent's hit so early in the game just set the pace.

"Nick came out with that big hit, after that, I didn't see a DI team out there," Cardoza said of their opponents.

And while Cardoza has learned plenty from his football coaches, he also said baseball coach Dusty Fox has been "an inspiration" and helped him elevate his game on the gridiron as well.

Senior Colin Keener was glad to be part of such an important win.

"We were real excited before the game," he said of the Cougars. "A DI team, they're always going to be tough, they were physically tough but we outplayed them, once we got into the flow, we kept going."

Indeed, once the Escalon machine started rolling, nothing could stop them.

"I'm just in the moment right now," an elated Nick Largent admitted. "To score 37 points, shut them out, our O line was moving ... this was the best game we've played."

The defensive and emotional leader for the team, Largent fired up his squad before the game even started.

"I told them that we would set the tone right away," he said. "I just didn't know it would be me making the hit."

The victory was number 205 in Loureiro's career, tying him with Mike Glines. The next one will leave Loureiro in sole possession of first place among active coaches in the district.

"I wasn't even thinking about that," Loureiro said. "Getting to 200 was the milestone ... the rest is just a treat."





RUSHING YARDS 53-413 27-38

ATT-COMP-INT 8-5-0 15-6-0



PENALTIES 8-50 8-90