Four different Cougars found the end zone and the varsity team added a field goal, working for a 31-14 victory on Friday night. They traveled to face off with Union Mine in El Dorado and came away with a win in the first game for first-year varsity head coach Andrew Beam.
“We started fast, I was happy with the opening drive of the game,” said Beam, who moved up to the varsity level this season to succeed longtime coach Mark Loureiro. Beam had served as JV head coach for the past few seasons at EHS.
“We ran the ball effectively, we threw the ball when we needed to,” the coach said.
Escalon received the kickoff and put together a solid first drive against the host Diamondbacks, playing on a turf field on a hot summer night.
“I wanted the ball,” admitted Beam of taking the first possession. “I wanted us to impose our will on offense and I wanted to do it from the beginning.”
The Cougars were working well together early, the defense allowing no rushing yards to Union Mine in the first quarter and giving up no points in the first half.
The Escalon offense, meanwhile, did its job, with a touchdown and field goal in the first quarter, two more touchdowns in the second quarter to vault themselves to a 14-0 halftime lead.
Bryan Hale took the ball in from two yards out for the first Cougar score of the season, with Guillermo Alvarez adding the point after for the early 7-0 lead. Alvarez added a 35-yard field goal later in the first quarter to make it 10-0.
In the second quarter, Escalon got a 5-yard rushing touchdown from Luke Anderson, the kick was good by Alvarez for a 17-0 edge and Kaidence Trejo pulled in a 23-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Lucciano ‘Lucca’ Dutra and Alvarez again added the kick to make it 24-0.
Early third quarter scoring saw Jordan Gwartney cash in at the end of a 16-yard run, the kick was good by Alvarez for a 31-0 advantage.
“I thought the first half was excellent,” noted Beam. “But it felt like we took our foot off the gas a little, we lost the intensity a little and got a little sloppy.”
Union Mine capitalized with a four-play, 80-yard drive for a score on a 41-yard pass play but failed on the two-point conversion, making it 31-6 after three quarters. They added another touchdown on a 23-yard pass completion and the successful two-point conversion in the fourth for the 31-14 final.
“I love my teammates, I enjoy playing with all the guys,” a tired but happy Anderson said following the contest, his first at the varsity level. “The speed of the game was a little surprising but it’s fun, I’m happy to do anything to help.”
Captain Nash Satnat summed up the feeling once the final horn sounded to end the game.
“Overall we’re feeling pretty good,” Satnat said. “This game, we didn’t show our best but now it’s a new week.”
He added that the team will need to get focused on their next opponent, as Calaveras comes in to Engel Field on Aug. 24.
“They’ve had our number the last couple years and they’re going to fight hard,” Satnat said.
The ultimate outcome against Union Mine, a win, was satisfying for Beam and his coaching staff but there were parts of the game that they know need work.
“It’s a learning experience for everyone,” the coach said.
Colton Panero, who went out with a serious injury last season while playing JV football, was happy to be back in the mix.
“It’s exciting, being next to all these guys out there,” he said, adding some kudos for the offensive line that “opens the holes” for the fullbacks and running backs to get through.
Escalon had 392 total yards, with 275 on the ground on 47 rushing plays. Dutra completed 15-of-20 pass attempts for 117 yards and a touchdown. Union Mine had 253 total yards, with 122 rushing yards and 9-of-20 pass completions for 131 yards, along with two interceptions, one by Luke Anderson and one by Colton Panero. Escalon also recovered two Union Mine fumbles, one by Nash Satnat, the other by Austin Narayan.
The Cougars were called for 12 penalties for 110 yards; Union Mine committed 10 penalties for 100 yards.
“Definitely the sloppiest part of the game,” Beam said, adding that many were mental mistakes and can be cleaned up in the future.
Leading the way for the Cougars was sophomore Luke Anderson, in his first varsity game, rushing 18 times for 112 yards and a touchdown, along with pulling down an interception.
“Lucciano Dutra played a really good game at quarterback, very accurate,” Beam added. “Colton Panero made a nice leaping interception, a great grab where he twisted his body around to get it; Nash Satnat had eight tackles and a fumble recovery, David Camacho had nine tackles, Jacob Walden had a sack.”
Leading receiver was Kaidence Trejo, four catches for 43 yards and a touchdown.
Beam said the squad will need a better effort to get a win against Calaveras; they will be on Engel Field for the Friday night game with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
“It will be a great first home game,” Beam said. “We know Calaveras is physical, they’re tough and we’ll find out a lot about our toughness.”
Though the first game was a long road trip, Beam said the team was sent off with a good vibe on Friday.
“When you walked on campus, there was a different feel, it was like school had officially started,” the coach said.
He is hoping the crowd will come out to see the team on Friday night at home, just as they traveled to watch the Cougars on the road.
“We need the support of our student body and this town; we felt it on Friday at school, saw it on Friday night in the stands … we appreciate it.”