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Friday Night Football Win Goes To Varsity Cougars
Exploding for 27 points in the second quarter, Escalon's varsity football team allowed just one Hughson touchdown and took an easy 34-7 win off the field on Friday night.

Hosting the Huskies, the Cougars got on the board in the first quarter and then settled in during the second stanza, running all over the visiting team. Defensively, the Cougars were a wall, not allowing the Huskies to get anything going.

"Our defense set up our offense all night," agreed coach Mark Loureiro. "We held them to three first downs and 38 yards the whole night, that was a big point for us."

Keeping the Hughson offense off the field was a sure way to keep them from scoring and it wasn't until a late touchdown by the Huskies that they were able to avoid the shutout.

Josh Miguel had a big carry prior to the first Cougar touchdown of the night to get them out from under a tough Huskies defense on the first series. He had 14 carries for 128 yards on the night with a pair of touchdowns.

Matt Roberson also found the end zone twice, on runs of 2 and 3 yards. Miguel scored from a yard and 5 yards out and the final score came on a 12-yard pass from Phillip Kimble to Joey Ratto, with Kimble coming in when starting quarterback Gino Franceschetti took a shot in the back and stiffened up.

Miguel even came on for an extra point attempt after Franceschetti, who also serves as the Cougar kicker, left the game.

"Josh always tells me he can be the backup kicker," Loureiro said. "That just shows what type of an all around athlete he is."

Miguel's extra point attempt was good on Escalon's final touchdown of the night. Defensively, the Cougars had four sacks, one each from Johnathon Costa, David Gonzales, Tony Vincent and Shane Silveira, who also added a fumble recovery.

"Joey Ratto had an interception that stopped their first drive," Loureiro added. "Gilberto Mancilla and Ian Fitzgerald also each had five tackles."

The game was 34-0 in Escalon's favor at the half and a running clock was utilized in the second half, making the game go by much faster than normal.

"That cost a lot of our seconds and thirds some playing time," Loureiro said.

But the running clock is an option this year, if officials feel it is warranted and both coaches agree. Escalon had 15 first downs on the night to Hughson's three, while the Cougars rolled up 325 yards of offense to Hughson's 38. Escalon was 4-for-4 in passing attempts for 78 yards, Franceschetti and Kimble each completing two passes. The Escalon squad rushed 42 times for 247 yards, lost two of three fumbles and was penalized five times for 50 yards.

Hughson was 7-for-14 in pass attempts with an interception good and 28 yards, and had 19 rushing plays for 10 yards, a total of 38 offensive yards. They fumbled once and lost it and were penalized five times for 45 yards.

"We practiced good this week," said junior Robbie Steves, a running back and outside linebacker. He is also the holder on the point after attempts.

"We have to stay focused," he added of getting ready for this week's big match with Hilmar. "Take just one game at a time."

While enjoying the win over Hughson, many of the Cougars were already looking ahead to the road game on Oct. 28.

"We've been studying a lot of films so we can see what they like to do," senior David Gonzales said of preparing for Hilmar. "I think we're coming out even more focused than we did against Patterson."

Getting some valuable minutes as the Cougars get ready for the stretch run was junior Nate Chunn, who didn't get into the end zone but got to carry the ball for positive yardage.

"I don't get too nervous out there," he said of taking the field. "I like the fact that all the hard work I put in in practice helps. I'm pretty confident."

The junior runs with purpose and has a nose for finding the holes the offensive line has created. In the post game huddle, Loureiro also pointed to the showdown with Hilmar as having major impacts.

"Get ready to climb that mountain," Loureiro told the players. "It's a game where you can find out how good you really are."