It was an early morning wake up call, a long trip, and an unexpected injury that combined to make Saturday’s varsity football scrimmage a tough one.
The Cougars were on the road to take on Argonaut and, on the second play, lost center Marco Mendoza to a dislocated elbow. Head coach Mark Loureiro said that put a damper on the scrimmage and also resulted in a juggling of players to fill the gap. Mendoza is expected to miss about three weeks.
“The scrimmage was tough for us,” Loureiro agreed. “Taking that injury on the second play, we stopped the scrimmage, the ambulance had to come.”
Back on the gridiron, it was more of a defensive struggle than anything else, as neither team could punch the ball into the end zone.
“We played very well on defense,” said Loureiro. “Offensively, we were not consistent. We didn’t get any rhythm going whatsoever.”
Argonaut proved to be a very physical opponent, the coach noted, and were able to get a push more often than not against the Cougars.
Earning high marks for their efforts were the Capps brothers, Bo and Blue, who Loureiro said blocked well on both sides of the ball. Chance Bollen also did some solid work and defensively, Tyler Voral and Tyler Swinford both played well. Elliott Mello ran well with the second group, said Loureiro.
“We showed that we’re young,” explained the coach, noting that there are several holes to fill from the seniors that graduated. “We came out knowing we have a lot of work to do, and we also came out with a sense of urgency.”
That urgency is because the Cougars have another tall task awaiting them, opening the pre-season campaign on the road this Friday night. They will travel to Downey High School in Modesto to take on the Enochs Eagles in a 7 p.m. contest.
The Eagles, coached by James Stacy, play in the Modesto Metro Conference and sport uniforms of black and gold. The high school itself has about 2,700 students.
“We’ve never played this school so I don’t know much about them,” Loureiro admitted.
Escalon did scout the team at a scrimmage they had this weekend and from that, were able to gain a little bit of information.
“They spread the field, they look for match-ups,” Loureiro said. “They use the run and pass equally, defensively they’re a 4-3 team and they’re very physical at the linebacker position.”
Escalon will definitely have to put forth a better effort than they did at Saturday’s scrimmage to stay in the game against the Eagles.
“Being a small school, about 850 kids, this is a big challenge for us here,” Loureiro agreed. “We’ve got a lot of juniors, we’re a young team and we’re counting on a lot of those juniors to step up and fill some spots.”
The junior varsity team, under head coach Andrew Beam, starts the Friday night action with a 5 p.m. game, followed by the varsity at 7 p.m.