By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Stingy Defense Cougars Shut Out Huskies In TVL Action
It wasn't the battle that most were expecting ... but it was the perfect way to end at home, with the varsity football Cougars upending Hughson 37-0 at Engel Field on Friday night.

Not only was it another decisive league win, it was also the fifth consecutive shutout for the Cougars at home, not allowing a point on their home field in three non-league and two TVL contests this season.

"I didn't realize that," Escalon head coach Mark Loureiro said of heading into the game on Friday with the shutout streak. "We learned about it Thursday night, the kids were talking about it at practice and that just shows you it's a total team effort, those second and third kids held on to that shutout."

When Escalon and Hughson get together, it's usually a fight to the end. But the 2009 Cougars clawed at the Huskies early and often, playing a solid game and taking a 20-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, scoring in each quarter.

Getting the first touchdown of the night for Escalon was Steve Silva, who converted on a 1-yard run in the first quarter, with Jason Diniz adding the extra point. Silva also went in on a 2-yard run, Diniz kicked the extra point for a 14-0 lead for the host Cougars after one. Diniz scored in the second quarter on a 1-yard run but the point after attempt was no good. It was 20-0 at halftime, and the Cougars were keeping the Huskies from getting anything going.

To start the game, Escalon won the toss but deferred, kicking off to Hughson. They didn't get too far before having to punt it away and the Cougars scored on their first possession, with runs by Silva, Josh Miguel and Diniz leading up to the Silva touchdown with 9:10 to go in the opening period. Escalon's second possession came on a punt that was pulled in on a fair catch at midfield and the Cougars benefited from a facemask call against the Huskies on that drive. Silva took it in with 4:11 to go.

Second quarter action featured a couple of nice pass completions, Spencer Franceschetti hooking up with Miguel on a 35-yarder and also finding Nick Largent on a play that set up Diniz for the 1-yard touchdown plunge with 10:23 to play in the quarter. Diniz, kicking the extra point, sent it wide left and it banged off the Cougars scoreboard.

Hughson did nothing with the ball on their next possession, again having to put it away.

In the second half, the Cougars got the kickoff to start and went on a five-minute scoring drive, keeping the Huskies tiring defense on the field. Good runs by Silva and Diniz, plus one by Miguel that was called back on a penalty, put the Cougars on the path to another touchdown. Looking at a second and 25 after the penalty on Miguel's run, Franceschetti found Diniz with a long pass and then hit Chad Hale for a 7-yard touchdown reception. The kick was good and it was 27-0 Escalon with 7:09 to play in the third quarter.

It was Hale's first touchdown of the season.

With just 35 seconds left in the third, Silva added another touchdown and Diniz another kick to make it 34-0 and a 26-yard field goal by Diniz with 2:56 left in the game put the home team up 37-0.

Hughson's final drive of the game, looking to put some points on the board against the Cougars, was broken up by Cordero Bryand, going up to deflect a pass on a fourth down play. With the ball batted away, the Cougars took over on downs and were able to run out the clock with less than a minute remaining in the game.

"It was a nice, solid convincing win," Loureiro told the Cougars in their post-game huddle. "Now practices are going to go up another notch."

The Cougars head out on the road for their final three Trans-Valley League games, going to Riverbank on Oct. 30, Modesto Christian and then Ripon.

Defending TVL champions, the Cougars are looking to return to the top spot. It likely will come down to the game at Modesto Christian on Nov. 6 to determine who wins the crown.

After two league games, Escalon and Modesto Christian are tied at 2-0, Ripon Christian and Ripon are both 1-1 and Riverbank and Hughson are at 0-2.

With points in every quarter of Friday night's win over Hughson, Loureiro said he was pleased to see the level of play the Cougars brought to the field for their Senior Night home finale.

"The attack was pretty well spread around," he said. "Diniz had 15 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown, Silva had 15 carries for 71 yards and three touchdowns, while Miguel added 9 carries for 61 yards.

"Diniz and Miguel also caught passes, we got 83 yards throwing from Spencer, we were just happy with everything, we really smothered them."

Special teams also came up big, with Diniz sending five kickoffs out of the end zone to put the Huskies at the 20-yard line.

"Derrick DeFreitas had his best game, 11 tackles, and Nick Largent had 10 tackles so our inside linebackers did a great ob."

Victor Carrillo had six tackles and one sack, Nijoel Meyer added a sack.

"Everybody on that whole defensive unit" played a part in getting the shutouts, Loureiro said, helping make the season a memorable one at home.

"We finished the home season off a good note," Loureiro agreed.

This week at Riverbank, Loureiro said he will utilize all his players, giving everyone playing time. Kickoff will be about 7:30 p.m.