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JV Cougars Claim TVL Championship
Players and coaches of the 9-1 Escalon junior varsity football team gather for a celebratory photo in the end zone, claiming the Trans-Valley League championship Friday night and going a perfect 5-0 through league play. Marg Jackson/The Times


A one score game at the half and at the end of the third was finally broken open by Escalon’s JV football team over the final quarter, as they closed out a perfect Trans-Valley League campaign with a 33-12 win against Modesto Christian.

The JV Cougars celebrated a league championship with the win and concluded a 5-0 run through the TVL, 9-1 overall for the season.

“We finally finished it off,” said a proud and happy JV head coach Andrew Beam. “It really was a close game until we put it away in the fourth.”

The host JV Cougars scored in every quarter, while MC managed just a pair of touchdowns on the night.

“We got a field goal on our first drive, we drove down and Rodrigo DeMelo nailed it from 37 yards out,” Beam said of the first score.

In the second quarter, it was a nice, slashing run by Hugo Alcala that got the team into the end zone. He scored from 30 yards out, then quarterback Steven Grossi tossed the 2-point conversion to Alcala for an 11-0 lead.

“They came right down and scored on us,” Beam said of the tough, resilient Modesto Christian team. “But they missed the 2-point conversion.”

The score remained that way so the Cougars took an 11-6 lead into the half.

“We didn’t play our best football in that first half,” Beam admitted of his team. “We turned the ball over and Modesto Christian was a good team, they were tough, the second best team we played all year.”

At halftime, Beam said he and the team discussed what it was going to take to win the game and his players then went out and made it happen.

“We knew the third quarter would be huge,” he said of MC getting the second half kickoff. “We forced a three and out.”

On Escalon’s first possession of the second half, it was Alcala again making things happen, finding the end zone on a 29-yard run and quarterback Grossi finding Max Nicholas for the 2-point conversion.

Again, the JV Crusaders answered back, scoring a touchdown of their own in the third quarter. They missed the 2-point attempt to trail 19-12 heading into the final period.

“We just pounded the football,” Beam said of the strategy in the final quarter. “We had 16 runs, there were runs of 4, 5 and 6 yards per carry.”

That helped eat the clock as well as advance the ball and the JV team also broke into the end zone two more times.

“Mark DeHaven scored from 15 yards out, that put us up by two scores,” Beam said. “Then Nick DeWeerd sealed it with a score from nine yards out, to put the game away.”

DeMelo came on to kick the extra point on both those scores, with Grossi holding and the JV boys had a 33-12 victory in hand.

“We had 288 total yards to their 178,” Beam said.

He also praised the effort of his team’s offensive line, which was overshadowed by Modesto Christian in both height and weight in most match ups, but not in effort.

“Those guys battled back,” Beam said of his smaller, lighter offensive line. “They really won that game for us in the fourth quarter.”

It was the first league title for the JV team since 2010 and that year, it was a shared title with one loss in league. This year, it is Escalon all alone at the top with a 5-0 TVL record.

“This is such a great group of kids, not just athletes but also great in the classroom and just good people,” Beam said of the 2015 JV squad. “It’s the first time in a long time we’ve gone 5-0 in league and at 9-1 overall, it was a great season.

“You combine these guys (at the varsity level) with next year’s seniors, they’re going to fun to watch.”