The varsity football Cougars were hitting on all cylinders on Friday night, methodically dismantling the visiting River City Raiders in a 56-8 thrashing at Engel Field.
The Sept. 7 contest was notable for a few things; it was the final pre-season game for the varsity squad, which went 4-0 during that run, it was the last game for assistant coach Drake Wells – who left for Italy where he has a chance to try out to play pro ball overseas – and it was an opportunity for second unit players to get quality time on the field.
Head coach Andrew Beam said the team played well, on both sides of the ball, and several players seized their chance to make an impact.
“We thought if we could get on these guys early, we could take them out of the fight before they even got into it,” Beam said of jumping on River City. “I’m really pleased with the team, the first string, the second string, those second unit guys were able to go in and get a touchdown drive, seeing guys that don’t get mentioned a lot get in and contribute is great.”
Escalon jumped on the Raiders with two touchdowns in the first quarter, three more in the second for a 35-0 lead. They added another score on their opening drive of the third quarter, River City then countered with their lone touchdown and two-point conversion of the night, then Escalon added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Among those getting into the end zone was Alexis Jimenez, a senior wide receiver.
“It feels amazing but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” he said. “It wasn’t just one person, it was all of us.”
“My mindset was just to make the most of my opportunity,” added senior fullback and linebacker Chase Granis. “I just want to help the team.”
He was also able to celebrate scoring a touchdown on Friday night and had a huge night defensively.
Quarterback Wyatt McCune got some time on the field and had one touchdown run of his own called back on a penalty behind the play, but then connected on a touchdown pass later in the game.
“It was fun to get into the game,” McCune said. “To see everyone get to play, that was awesome.”
Senior Frank Leal, one of this year’s captains, said he was happy to see the second unit guys get the chance to contribute.
“Every week in practice, they make us better,” he said. “It was great to see everyone get in … now we just have to keep that momentum going.”
Junior Roman Gonzalez made a big impact as well.
“Coach always says the next man has to be ready,” he noted, adding that he learned on Thursday he would be starting.
The middle linebacker had a fumble recovery he returned for a touchdown called back but still made his presence felt on the field.
“It feels great to get the opportunity,” he admitted.
Escalon got a 1-yard run from Luke Anderson, kick good by Ricky Erazo for the early 7-0 lead, then Lucciano Dutra found Kaidence Trejo on a 33-yard pass play, kick good, for a 14-0 edge.
Second quarter scoring saw Kaden Christensen go 16 yards for the score, kick good; Frank Leal, 3-yard run, kick good; Colton Panero, 35 yard run, kick good to stake the Cougars to the 35-0 halftime lead.
Christensen broke one for 62 yards in the third quarter with McCune then connecting on a 16-yard pass with Jimenez and a 13-yard run by Granis, both in the fourth quarter, accounting for the final margin of victory.
Christensen had six carries for 110 yards and two scores to lead the rushing attack.
Ethan Krieger, Chase Granis and Roman Gonzalez had seven tackles each and David Camacho had a sack. Gonzalez and Devin Roberson each had a fumble recovery.
“We’ve been efficient on offense and we are wearing teams down,” Beam said.
The Cougars have their bye this week and start Trans-Valley League play on Sept. 21, hosting Hilmar.