A decidedly lackluster effort – on the heels of a long bus ride – added up to a non-league loss for Escalon’s varsity Cougars on Friday night.
The team headed to Bear River and came out on the wrong end of a 14-7 decision.
“I’m real disappointed in the way we played,” admitted head coach Mark Loureiro. “We lacked energy, came out very flat, we just had no enthusiasm from the get go.”
Host Bear River seized the opportunity to eke out a victory, scoring in the first and second quarters. For Escalon, their lone touchdown came in the fourth quarter and it was on the defensive side. Adam Roberson picked off a Bear River pass and returned it for the score.
“Their kids wanted to win more than we did,” Loureiro said.
It is a team that the coach feels his Cougars definitely could have defeated, they just didn’t bring their ‘A’ game on the trip.
“We tackled poorly, made mistakes, we only ran 12 offensive plays in the first half,” Loureiro noted.
And it wasn’t as if Escalon didn’t have chances to punch it in the end zone. They got to the 3-yard line late in the first half and then had back-to-back 15-yard penalties and a sack on another possession late in the game.
“We shot ourselves in the foot, took ourselves out of it,” the coach noted. “They (Bear River) made the plays; they converted five times on third and long.”
Roberson’s 8-yard interception return for the Escalon touchdown was a highlight, and that made it 14-7 with 10 minutes to go in the game.
“We got some life and momentum going then,” said Loureiro.
But they couldn’t find a way to get any more points on the board.
Bear River scored first on a 23-yard screen pass and their second touchdown came on a 1-yard run and 2-point conversion.
Escalon did play better collectively in the second half, added the coach, but not enough to overcome the host squad.
Among those players that did catch Loureiro’s attention: Hunter Calton, who ran 14 times for 62 yards; Chris Pilcher, A.J. Camarena and Travis Nascimento, with eight tackles each. There were also three interceptions in the second half, one each by Roberson, Brandon Grogan and Pilcher.
The team could also still be trying to shake off the effects of knowing they have lost Christian May for the season with a torn ACL, the injury suffered in the Homecoming win over Liberty Ranch.
“He’s our best defensive back and return guy,” Loureiro said. “As many things as Christian did for us, those are doors for other kids opening up, we just need kids to step up and fill those holes.”
For the game, Escalon had 14 first downs, 37 rushes for 117 yards and completed 10-of-17 pass attempts for 76 yards. They totaled 193 yards of offense and were penalized 10 times for 100 yards.
Bear River had 10 first downs, 36 rushes for 113 yards, completed 8-of-16 pass attempts for 96 yards, totaling 209 yards. They were penalized 13 times for 120 yards.
“Our bye week comes at a good time,” Loureiro said. “We need to get ready for Hughson and we need to find our identity now.”
Both Escalon and Hughson have a bye this week, so each team will have an extra week to prepare for the Trans-Valley League opener. Hughson will host the Cougars on Oct. 10.
“We need to correct mistakes,” Loureiro said. “And find some passion for this game of football.”