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Gwartney Powers JV Cougars Past Ripon
Quarterback Lucciano Dutra, 1, surveys the offensive alignment prior to taking the snap against Ripon at Engel Field on Friday. The undefeated JV team topped Ripon, 41-7. Marg Jackson/The Times

In a game pitting the 6-1 Ripon JV Indians against the host 7-0 Escalon JV Cougars, it really was no contest.

Escalon prevailed in a thorough 41-7 thrashing of the visitors on Friday night, keeping their unbeaten season alive and zeroing in on at least a share of the Trans-Valley League title.

“I didn’t even have to try and motivate the kids during the week,” said head coach Andrew Beam. “We had a great week of practice, we watched a lot of film; the kids were ready to go by Wednesday.”

The Escalon-Ripon rivalry has heated up in recent years and the young Cougars left no doubt which was the better team this season.

“It started with an 84-yard kickoff return from Jordan Gwartney and they were shell shocked for the next 28 points,” said Beam, with the opening kickoff taken back for the score.

Escalon had just the lone touchdown in the first quarter and added three more in the second for a 28-0 halftime lead.

“In the first quarter we traded possessions, we had a touchdown called back, but we just exploded in the second quarter,” said Beam.

Key to the game was Gwartney, who scored five of the team’s six touchdowns.

“He had the best game I’ve ever seen a JV player have,” the coach noted. “He had 20 carries for 176 yards and five touchdowns. Nobody else had more than five carries.”

Gwartney totaled over 200 all-purpose yards on the night and scored all three second quarter touchdowns, the longest on a 45-yard run.

“They scored late in the second quarter and our kids were ticked off by that,” Beam added of Ripon getting on the scoreboard, with the Escalon squad aiming to shut out their opponent.

It was the only time Ripon saw the end zone, however, and Escalon added single touchdowns in each of the third and fourth quarters to take the 41-7 win. The only reason it wasn’t 42-0 was the final score came as the clock expired, with no time – and no need – to line up for the extra point.

Kaden Christensen had the final touchdown of the game for Escalon.

“Defensively, we held them to under 100 yards rushing and we had 266 yards,” Beam said. “Ethan Krieger had 12 tackles, Nash Satnat had 10 and Damien Tom had eight tackles.”

The offensive line also did a good job, making sure there were holes for Gwartney and others to get through, with everyone contributing in the win.

“We were very happy with our kids but it doesn’t get easier, we go to Modesto Christian and they have only one loss, that was to Ripon,” Beam said. “It’s another big time game this week but the nice thing is we control our own destiny.”

The JV team can clinch at least a share of the title with a win. Game time is 5:30 p.m. at Modesto Christian.