The final 7-on-7 football tournament for the Cougars was played on Friday, June 28 at Downey High School in Modesto. Besting seven other teams at the event, the Escalon contingent was awarded the Friday Knight Lights championship title and T-shirts.
Escalon, Downey, Hughson, Sonora, Turlock, Stagg, Pacheco and Waterford all took part in the competition, with two different divisions featured.
Head coach Andrew Beam noted that, in their division, the Cougars defeated Pacheco, 28-6; took down Waterford, 34-6; and then took a 30-21 win over Turlock.
That gave Escalon the top seed in their division and put them against second place Hughson from the other division in the semifinals.
“We beat them, 24-12, and that got us into the championship against Downey,” Beam explained. “The boys just played outstanding.”
An interception by Kaden Christensen set the tone, as the Cougar offense then made the most of their opportunities.
“Downey was always chasing us,” Beam said of taking the 34-21 win.
Previously, the team traveled to Fresno to take part in the Battle of the Valley at Fresno State. There were 14 teams involved in that 7-on-7 tournament and Escalon did well, winning in pool play, 40-13 over Modesto Christian, 25-20 over Turlock and then 34-6 against Clovis East.
After a first round bye in the ensuing single elimination championship bracket, the Cougars then took on Firebaugh and got the win at the very end.
“Ty Harris threw a touchdown to Kaden Christensen with no time left to win the game, 27-22,” noted Beam.
In the semi-finals, Escalon lost a close one to Turlock, 24-20.
“We had the ball for a final possession but couldn’t do anything with it,” Beam said.
Nonetheless, he said the trip to Fresno was a good one for the team, having the opportunity to see and compete against larger schools.
“We had a lot of great individual efforts,” the coach added, including a strong day from Eli Lattig at cornerback and receiver. “We took 25 kids to Fresno State and it was really good exposure for them.”
The team also played at UC Davis in the beginning of June, facing off against Chavez, Central Catholic and Sonora.
The ‘dead period’ for sports teams looking to get summer work in begins July 8 and ends July 29.
“Ty Harris had a great summer at quarterback, Eli Lattig was the biggest surprise of the summer, he’s a three-sport athlete and he will step in and fill a hole for us,” Beam said.
Colton Panero, Kaidence Trejo and Kaden Christensen will lead the corps of returning two-way players.
“They are three of the best players on the field, no matter the competition,” noted Beam.