The freshmen were at home, the JV football boys were on the road and both took losses this week to the Hughson Huskies.
For the junior varsity boys, they fell behind 7-0 in the first quarter before getting into the end zone in the second to cut the deficit to 7-6. But Hughson capitalized on all their opportunities, leading 21-6 at the half, paving the way to a 35-12 victory.
“Hughson scored first, on a 52-yard rush, their second offensive play, with the point after to go up 7-0,” said coach Brant Rose. “Then they forced us to punt on a quick three and out.”
Escalon was able to get on the board in the second quarter, on a 7-yard pass from Jagger Scott to Sam Jimenez. The point after attempt failed, but it was a 7-6 contest.
Hughson answered with a 2-yard rush, kick good, to make it 14-6 and they capped the first half scoring with a 21-yard pass, point after good, to extend the lead to 21-6.
The host JV Huskies got the ball to start the second half and scored on a 1-yard rushing play with the point after good to make it 28-6.
“We then started a drive late in the third quarter and scored early in the fourth, Nate Krieger scored on a 1-yard rush,” Rose said.
The 2-point attempt was no good and the Cougars had to settle for trimming the Hughson lead to 28-12.
“Right after that, Nico Franzia forced a fumble,” noted Rose, giving the JV team a chance to get themselves back in the contest. “We were threatening to cut it to a one-possession game.”
But the Huskies defense withstood the test, forced a turnover on downs and, with about a minute left in the game, got back into the end zone for their final touchdown. That came on a 4-yard run and the kick was good, making it 35-12.
“Offensively we actually moved the ball well,” Rose explained. “We had a pretty balanced attack.”
Talan Reider was the leading rusher for Escalon.
Hughson just had too many weapons, the coach noted.
“They scored points on every drive and they had long, sustained drives, they kept the ball in their hands and we just couldn’t get them off the field,” Rose said.
Still, the coach pointed out, his team battled.
“We were outsized remarkably and it wore on us, plus we hurt ourselves missing tackles,” Rose said.
Escalon did score a pair of touchdowns on the night and Rose added that those were the first points the Huskies had given up in a game so far this season.
“We made them play four quarters,” he said.
Escalon’s JV team now has its bye week, going in with a 3-2 overall mark and 0-1 in Trans-Valley League play. They will host Hilmar on Friday, Oct. 1 at Engel Field.
“The bye comes at a good time; we have played five, get the week off and then we will play five more,” Rose said.
It was a 19-0 deficit at halftime for the freshmen and though they didn’t win their game on Thursday night, they did score a victory of sorts. They kept the visiting Huskies off the scoreboard in the second half of the Sept. 16 contest, so the final score was the same as halftime.
“We played much better in the second half,” agreed coach Joey Costa.
He said coaches challenged the team to “win” the battle over the third and fourth quarters and, by keeping the Huskies out of the end zone, achieved that goal.
“We had a nice long drive the second half but it ended with a fumble,” Costa added of being unable to get the offense on track.
However, he said, there are many players – some that are playing football for the first time – that are getting a real understanding and feel for the sport.
The 19-0 final outcome also had another effect that Costa said he was happy to see.
“It mattered,” he said of his players taking the loss hard. “That was a look I hadn’t seen before.”
He’s hoping to use that as a springboard, as the team learns more about working together to achieve the common goal of winning.
“Austin Cullum led us, played the best on both offense and defense,” explained Costa. “Ryan Murphy played well defensively but offensively, we struggled.”
Quarterback Christian Becerra is one of those new to the game; he continues to learn each time on the field and did complete a pass for a first down against Hughson.
This week, the freshmen will host the Pitman Pride on Thursday, Sept. 23 at 6 p.m.
“They are a Wing-T team, a much larger school,” said Costa.
The major goal, the coach added, is to improve each time out and learn the system that will help the players move on to the JV and varsity levels.
“We want to play those types of teams,” Costa said of facing off with the Pitman squad. “I want to see that fight.”