The big Gatorade cooler of water was picked up and put down multiple times on Friday night.
But when the final seconds ticked off and Escalon had put away Hilmar in a 41-34 victory at Engel Field, a handful of Cougars were more than happy to hoist the cooler and dump the icy water over the head of their coach, Mark Loureiro.
Not because they beat Hilmar in a crucial Trans-Valley League contest, but because the win against Hilmar goes in the books as Number 262 – and makes Loureiro the all-time wins leader in Sac-Joaquin Section history.
The battle on the field took all four quarters (See story, additional photos in Sports, Page A15) and the road to number 262 took roughly a quarter of a century. Loureiro bypassed Max Miller, who coached at Rio Americano and two different times at Cordova, compiling a record of 261-103-4.
With Friday night’s victory, Loureiro runs his ongoing record to 262-51-1.
“There was no question, doing something like this, it was great to do it at home,” Loureiro said. “There were a lot of friends and family here, former players came back, a lot of people that supported me through the years were here to see it.”
Sister paper of The Times, the Turlock Journal, is scheduled to air highlights of the game and a post-game interview with the coach as part of its Wednesday Night Blitz, airing tonight, Wednesday, Oct. 22; visit www.turlockjournal.com for more information.
The scene was set for the big win on Friday, as Hilmar has been the team that has forced Escalon out of the playoffs the last couple of seasons. This time, it was Escalon’s turn and the Hilmar loss makes it very likely the Yellowjackets will miss the playoffs altogether.
“It’s just special, doing this against such a quality team,” Loureiro added. “That makes it mean a little bit more; there have been a lot of years of hard work, great players that I’ve coached.”
Many of those players made it a point to be on hand for the game and made their way onto the field to congratulate their coach. Also on hand, several members of Loureiro’s family including his wife Lisa, dad Bob, brother, children, and more. The coach also noted the constant support of his assistant coaches as being key to getting that many victories.
When asked if he could pinpoint some of his ‘top 10’ games over the years, Loureiro was quick to answer.
“This was the greatest game right here,” he said of getting the record against Hilmar. “That is a class act ball club.”
With the Cougars holding on to the one touchdown lead and the final seconds clicking off Friday night, quarterback Caleb Mullen came to the sidelines to get one last play call from his coach. The two stood there briefly, looking at the scoreboard, Loureiro’s arm draped around his QB’s shoulder as they watched history being made.
“There are no words for it,” Mullen said following the game and the celebration. “It was awesome.”