Getting a chance to play in front of their hometown fans, the Escalon varsity football team made the most of it, handing visiting Calaveras a 14-6 setback on Friday night at Engel Field.
“It was more our style of football, we took a physical approach,” said head coach Mark Loureiro. “Both teams did a good job on defense and I was real proud of our defense, we forced three turnovers.”
C.J. Gumbs and Cameron Puthoff each had an interception; Trenton Busch had a fumble recovery. Logan Widmer had a pair of sacks to lead the defense while Dustin Lawrence and Dakota Saing recorded seven tackles each in a grinder of a game.
“We got more helmets around the ball,” added Loureiro. “The pace and speed was more our game.”
That, coming off a season opening loss on the road at Patterson, where the Tigers used their speed to run away from the Cougars. This week, in a battle of similarly matched teams, the host Cougars had the upper hand.
“Calaveras did score first, on their first drive of the game but they missed the extra point,” Loureiro said of the Redskins taking the lead in the opening quarter.
Escalon finally got the score they were looking for late in the second quarter, taking the lead just before halftime as the offense and defense started to settle in.
An 11-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Azevedo to Dustin Lawrence got the Cougars on the board and David Martinez added the point after for a 7-6 Escalon lead.
“Then with about a minute and a half to go in the game, Hunter Calton got in on a 10-yard run,” explained Loureiro. “That was on a seven-minute, 60-yard drive.”
Martinez added the point after – barely – as the kick hit the crossbar but bounced through. The Cougars had to kick off and made a nice defensive stand, allowing the Redskins little room to work with on their final drive.
“We were able to hold them out at the end,” said Loureiro. “That gave us more confidence.”
For the game, Escalon had 13 first downs and Calaveras had nine, while the visiting Redskins had the advantage in total yards with 257 to Escalon’s 222. The Redskins had 32 rushes for 120 yards and had 137 yards passing on seven-of-14, with two interceptions. They fumbled once and lost it and were penalized nine times for 60 yards.
Escalon had 42 rushing plays for 155 yards and Azevedo completed eight-of-11 pass attempts with no interceptions. The Cougars had one fumble but held possession and they had just one penalty for 10 yards on the game.
“Offensively, Hunter Calton had a good game, 18 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown,” noted Loureiro. “Chris Pilcher also ran hard for us, five carries for 31 yards and he did a great job blocking. The offensive line did a very good job.”
Loureiro was also pleased with an overall solid night from junior quarterback, Dylan Azevedo.
“He completed eight of 11 pass attempts and three of them were for first downs,” Loureiro said, in addition to the TD pass. “And Sam Lattig is turning in to a solid receiver for us; he had five catches for 38 yards, some big first downs to keep drives alive.”
There is still plenty of room for improvement, the coach said, but it was a solid showing from the Cougars in their home opener. They get ready to travel this week, heading to Angels Camp to face off with Bret Harte.
On what is predicted to be a triple digit day, Escalon will take on Bret Harte in Angels Camp, playing on turf for the second time this preseason. New head coach for the purple and gold Bullfrogs is Casey Kester and the Bullfrogs play in the Mother Lode League. They took a 42-6 loss to Orestimba in their last game.
“They’ll be chomping at the bit to come back and get a win,” Loureiro said.
Leading the Bullfrogs are quarterback Mike Ziehlke, running back Brady Westberg, receivers Luke Pinney and Bucky Sewell and top lineman Colin Preston.
Loureiro said it should be a good match up for the teams.
“This has been a good rivalry for us over the years,” he said.