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This week, the varsity Cougars face a tough task. Taking down the high-flying Liberty Ranch Hawks, a team coming off a 77-13 thrashing of Franklin of Stockton. Liberty Ranch plays in the Sierra Foothill League and they were undefeated champs of that league last season, going deep into the playoffs as well.

“They return nine starters on offense and nine on defense,” Escalon head coach Mark Loureiro said of the experienced squad.

They do have a new head coach in Anthony Linebaugh and have gone 2-1 so far in their preseason campaign.

Quarterback is Rick Van Houten and his top rushers are Kamil Jones and Ian Frazier. The Hawks also feature a huge line, said Loureiro, with leaders on the line Jack Lopez, Jonny Smith, Gabe Becerra, Jariath Tupito-Ma’ae and William Gasca.

“They’ll have a big size advantage on us,” said Loureiro.

The visiting Hawks took a little while to get on track last season but then hit their stride.

“They lost their first four games last year and then won eight straight,” the coach said.

The Cougars will have to put together their best effort this week to take down the Hawks.