With strong numbers at all levels, the summer football off-season was a busy and successful one for the Escalon Cougars.
Varsity head coach Andrew Beam said coaches overall were pleased with the great turnout in terms of numbers and the effort they saw from players.
“We had 42 freshmen, that is the highest number of freshmen I can ever remember, we are usually at 15 or 16,” Beam said. “It was great to have that many interested and dedicated.”
The Cougar players met for workouts four times a week during the allowed summer practice time, spending time with strength and conditioning coach Wesley Dick.
“We also had a seven-on-seven camp with other teams like Central Catholic and Downey,” noted Beam.
Perhaps the most satisfying event of the summer, though, was the Stagg 12-team Passing Tournament and Lineman Challenge for varsity players, where the Cougars made plenty of noise.
“We took seven linemen and we took second place overall, losing only to St. Mary’s of Stockton,” Beam explained. “For the passing tournament, we took our 16 guys and we won the whole tournament; I am so unbelievably proud of how the boys performed.”
Escalon went 5-0 in pool play during the passing tourney, the only undefeated team in pool play.
“Then we won three single elimination games to win it all,” the coach said.
Teams the Cougars played during the tournament included Beyer, Pacheco, McNair of Stockton, Gregori and Weston Ranch.
“We faced Lodi in the semifinals and then we beat Chavez of Stockton in the championship,” Beam said. “We by far had the least amount of guys but that just showed them (other teams) that our guys were in shape.”
And even with just 16 players suiting up for the tournament, Beam said they did have depth and were able to use different players, plugging them in where needed.
What was encouraging for the coach was getting the chance to see players that didn’t get much of an opportunity on the gridiron this past season. With a late start for football and a five-game schedule whittled down to three after losing two weeks to COVID, there wasn’t enough time to get all players in. The summer season gave coaches the chance to assess what might await them this fall.
“We’ll be breaking in a new quarterback, a new fullback, there will be lots of new names and faces,” Beam said.
The dead period for football started on Monday, July 12 and runs for two weeks; practices can resume on Monday, July 26. The first allowable date for a football scrimmage is Aug. 13.
With solid work done this summer and kids eager to get back to a full schedule in the helmets and shoulder pads, Beam is optimistic about the season.
“It’s encouraging to go into practice with some positives,” he said.