A Saturday morning trip to Argonaut for a football scrimmage saw both the Escalon varsity and JV Cougars take the field.
“The kids played really well, we found out we’re pretty athletic,” noted varsity head coach Mark Loureiro. “We have a lot of competition at positions; our practices have been good; everybody played well.”
Coming off a tough season, Loureiro is optimistic that the tough battles between teammates for playing time will bode well in the long run for the 2017 campaign.
“All our backs ran well, Mark DeHaven, Jordan Gwartney, Kaden Christensen, Hugo Alcala, Jake Lewis and Elliott Mello,” said Loureiro. “Our younger kids, every snap they got better.”
Trent Cummings and Cole Gilbert were solid at the guard positions on Saturday, while tight ends Nash Satnat and Devin Roberson blocked well.
“Defensively, our linebackers controlled the line,” said Loureiro of the core group of Lucca Dutra, DeHaven, Mello and Satnat.
Cuyler Crawford played well on both sides of the ball as well and players in the second group that stepped it up included Nick Lattig, Rhys Panero, Ethan Krieger and Frank Leal.
“We didn’t throw too much but we got good leadership from both quarterbacks, Dutra and Steven Grossi, they ran the offense well,” Loureiro added. “The team is shaping up.”
Sophomores adding some spark to the mix included Christensen, Damien Tom and Jacob Walden.
With the scrimmage out of the way, Escalon will now focus on preparing for their Friday night preseason home opener, hosting Enochs at Engel Field on Aug. 25.
“We don’t know a whole lot about Enochs, this year they went to the Wing-T and they look more like a run team,” Loureiro said. “They return their leading rusher and they are big on the defensive front but I like our match ups, I like our athleticism up front.”
Head coach for Enochs is James Stacey and the team plays in the Modesto Metro Conference. Escalon took the season opening win on the road at Enochs last year; Loureiro said he’s sure the team would like to return the favor at Engel Field but the varsity squad will do all it can to prevent that.
Enochs is coming off a Saturday round robin event where they faced Ceres, Sonora and Hughson in a scrimmage, so the teams come in not having the chance to see each other.
“We’re excited,” Loureiro said. “It’s time to play.”
The coach said the Trans-Valley League looks to be a tough one again this season and the Cougars will face off with some solid preseason opponents to get ready for the TVL campaign.
“We’re a young team, we’ll get better each week,” Loureiro said.
The JV team, under head coach Andrew Beam, also traveled for the Saturday scrimmage.
“It went good, we had three of our sophomores moved up the varsity but that lets guys step up into important roles,” Beam said. “We have some athleticism, some team speed.”
Standouts for the JV squad on Saturday included Colton Panero, Miguel Souza and David Camacho.
“We’re going to be depending on freshmen to fill some spots and they are unproven on Friday nights,” Beam said.
Enochs, the JV opponent this coming Friday night, has some size and speed, added Beam, and they also have switched to the Wing T for this season.
That will make it a little easier to prepare for them, Beam explained, but what will happen on the field is really unknown.
“We’ll work on our stuff and be ready for anything,” said Beam.
JV action kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Friday; varsity follows about 7:30 p.m.
Freshmen competition starts with a game on the road for the youngest Cougars, as they will head to Hilmar for a Thursday, Aug. 31 contest. New head coach this season for the frosh squad is Mark Walden, with Derek Scott assisting.
While the football team headed to Argonaut, the Escalon volleyball program traveled, but stayed closer to home, heading to Oakdale for a multi-team scrimmage.
The varsity girls started the action, taking the court early Saturday morning.
“We have five seniors, three juniors and four sophomores,” said varsity head coach Teresa Williamson. “Overall they played well. Everyone played and I got to see what we need to work on.”
The varsity squad faced off with Golden Valley, Beyer, and Oakdale.
“This team is very strong individually, now we just need to put it all together as a team,” Williamson added. “I’m very proud of the girls and how hard they work. They are very determined and motivated, too.”
After the varsity squad completed their round of three scrimmage contests, the JV and freshman teams had their time on the court. Krystal Rodriguez is the JV coach; Morgan Jensen leads the freshmen.
Rodriguez said she was pleased with the hard work of her squad, though they do have plenty of areas to improve in before the league season begins.
“This team does very well with pushing each other and that’s a hard quality to find in teen girls these days,” Rodriguez said. “What’s even better is that most of them have never played together before, which shows true heart for the game and one another. I believe this season is going to be great. We already have amazing growth on the court and they have pride for their team and their school. They want to be better.”
The toughest part for the JV girls so far has been the mental struggle with the game, afraid of making a mistake and then proving themselves right by making it.
That will change in time and with more games on the court, Rodriguez anticipates.
“With each match on Saturday at the Oakdale scrimmage they got better and better, learning more about the speed of JV ball and about how everyone plays together. It was definitely progress and now we know exactly what we need to work on for this week,” said Rodriguez. “This is always a great starter for us because it helps kick start the season especially playing against some good teams like Oakdale, Beyer and Golden Valley.
“As always I’m proud to be a part of this program and a big part of that is the girls; I have a great bunch this year.”
The freshmen, JV and varsity girls are all scheduled to travel to Enochs for matches on Friday, Aug. 25 starting with the freshmen at 4 p.m.; JV at 5 p.m.; varsity at 6 p.m.