In a game that saw the teams combine for 315 yards on 33 penalties, and a final score of 47-31, Escalon’s varsity football team escaped with the victory.
They were on the road, traveling to Downey High School in Modesto to face off with the Enochs Eagles in the football season opener on Aug. 26.
Knotted 13-13 at the half, the Cougars did make some adjustments and came out with an efficient offensive effort in the second half, but still need to turn it up a few notches on defense if they want to stay in the win column.
“I was happy with how the kids responded at half-time,” agreed head coach Mark Loureiro. “I was pleased with the offense. The defense didn’t play that well.”
There were some solid individual defensive efforts but as a whole, the coach noted, the team needs to tackle better and limit their opponents’ opportunities to burst through the line.
Several players did step up offensively, as the Cougars had touchdowns from multiple players on the night.
“For a lot of the kids, this was their first varsity game,” Loureiro said. “It took them a while to adjust to the pace of varsity competition.”
Settling in after the initial jitters were over, the Cougar offense moved the ball well and rolled up a total of 405 yards of offense on the night.
“C.J. Gumbs had 12 carries for 153 yards and had 93 yards in kickoff returns,” Loureiro said.
One of the carries took Gumbs into the end zone, while Tim Costa had 17 carries for 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Hugo Alcala carried the ball 13 times for 81 yards and three touchdowns.
“Hugo stuck his feet in the ground and kept moving forward,” Loureiro said of the tough performance.
Jake Lewis also had a nice night, three carries for 72 yards and a touchdown.
“We rushed for 405 yards so that means you’re getting a good push,” Loureiro said of a strong effort by the offensive line.
Brothers Bo and Blue Capps both had solid games, with Loureiro also pointing to the work of Chance Bollen, Stephen Mendez and Jake Alvarado in the trenches, with tight ends Tyler Voral and Brandon Levin also contributing.
Escalon started to run up the score a little in the third quarter and had what seemed to be a comfortable lead, but penalties and some Cougar miscues allowed Enochs to hang on to hope, making some noise and getting on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter.
“Defensively, it was spotty,” Loureiro agreed of having a good play followed by a bad one. “As the game went on, though, our juniors were taking a better angle, making the adjustments.”
Elliott Mello had 11 tackles, Tyler Swinford added nine. Mark DeHaven had eight tackles, Chance Bollen had seven tackles and a sack, Bo Capps added two sacks, a fumble recovery and six tackles and Trent Cummings had a sack. Nick DeWeerd had an interception in the third quarter.
“That game was a learning experience,” Loureiro said, with the team happy for the win but not entirely pleased with the overall performance.
Escalon attempted just one pass on the night, relying on their ground game.
That, however, will have to change, Loureiro said, as the team needs to mix the pass and the run effectively.
Escalon had 19 first downs on the night and rushed 51 times for 405 yards. They fumbled twice and lost it both times and were penalized 17 times for 150 yards. Enochs had 13 first downs, rushed 33 times for 111 yards and completed 15-of-24 pass attempts for 170 yards, accounting for 281 total yards on the night. They fumbled once and lost it and were penalized 16 times for 165 yards.
The Cougars stay on the road this week, playing Calaveras in a Friday night game, Sept. 2 with kickoff about 7 p.m.
Team captains this year are Tyler Swinford, C.J. Gumbs, Bo Capps and Blue Capps.