Editor's Note: Following publication, it was announced that the scheduled Friday, March 26 JV game and a freshman contest on Thursday, March 25 for Escalon were cancelled due to quarantine issues.
It was pretty much a mismatch from the start … the visiting Escalon Cougars faced off with host Oakdale in The Corral on March 19, the JV football team from Oakdale roughing up the visitors, 40-0.
“It was 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, 27-0 at the half,” said Escalon JV head coach Brant Rose. “We learned pretty quickly that we were mismatched; they were very physical, very big, we just couldn’t get anything established offensively.”
Rose said his Cougars kicked off and it didn’t take Oakdale long to get on the scoreboard, breaking into the end zone on the second play from scrimmage.
Escalon then went three and out, giving the ball back to Oakdale, and the host JV team again scored to make it a 14-0 contest.
The young Cougars did get a little traction on their next possession, collecting a first down but ultimately had to punt the ball away.
“It was a good punt and then our defense stepped up and held them, they had to punt and we got good field position,” Rose explained. “I thought, if we could score, get some momentum there, we could make it a game.”
However, the drive stalled and Escalon turned the ball over on downs. Oakdale went on a drive that culminated with a touchdown early in the second quarter, extending the lead to 21-0.
“They were so big and physical, it was a small school vs. a big school and you could tell, our guys were gassed; we have so many kids that play both ways, they (Oakdale) were much fresher,” Rose explained.
Escalon did get an outstanding effort on the night from Ryker Peters on both sides of the ball, leading the JV Cougars in rushing yards offensively and in tackles defensively.
“He played hard and was one of the guys that I felt fought pretty hard as well,” Rose said.
The coach also pointed to the work of two freshmen from Friday night, Jamin Miller and Talan Reider, as being strong, both giving a solid effort defensively throughout the contest. Rose said the JV team has several freshmen that they will look to this season to make some contributions.
The toughest part of the night came late in the game when team captain and leader Ayden Wilson went down with a hip injury, one that saw him taken off the field on a stretcher.
“He is one of our hardest working players, that was really tough,” Rose admitted.
The coach said the biggest challenge for the team now is moving forward from the 40-0 loss.
“It was a good wake up call. Our challenge this week is how do we respond? We didn’t put up much of a fight,” Rose said, noting that he will focus on that area with his squad.
Getting the players to battle with every snap, fight for extra yards on every down, he said, will be key as the season continues.
“We’re going to try to rebound, build some confidence,” Rose said.
The JV team is scheduled to play at home on Friday night, March 26 against Linden with a 5 p.m. kickoff.
And even though the schedules this year might feature many last minute changes, Rose said he couldn’t be happier for the team to be able to suit up – even though football in March isn’t the norm.
“Just being out there, it felt so good,” he said of the Friday night contest in Oakdale. “To give these kids the experience of playing, that Friday night football atmosphere; they need it.”