Hilmar turned out to be a difficult riddle to solve for Escalon’s underclassmen.
Both the JV, on the road, and the freshmen, at home, lost to the Yellowjackets this past week to begin Trans-Valley League play.
For the JV boys, it was a 14-7 loss. The teams were tied 7-7 at the half, with Hilmar punching the ball through in the fourth quarter to take the win.
Escalon scored in the first quarter on a 3-yard run from Matthew Baptista and Andres Beltran adding the point after. Hilmar countered with a 55-yard pass play and extra point in the second quarter.
The final score came on a 7-yard run, extra point good, for the host Yellowjackets on Friday night, Sept. 27.
“It was a really disappointing one for us,” admitted head coach Brant Rose. “We had the ball the entire first quarter, we drove down and scored as time expired, Hilmar did not run one offensive play in the first quarter.”
In fact, Escalon had 30 plays in the first half to Hilmar’s seven.
“For how much we controlled the clock and the ball, it was disappointing to be in a tie at halftime,” Rose noted.
Defensively, the team played fairly well, the coach said, and neither team had any turnovers. It really came down to some missed assignments and the inability to finish a drive that doomed the JV Cougars.
“We just didn’t make the most of our opportunities,” Rose said. “Our players realize they should have won that game.”
But they don’t have time to “feel sorry” for themselves, the coach added, as they prepare for Sierra High School of Manteca to come to town on Oct. 4 for Homecoming. Modesto Christian, the varsity opponent, doesn’t have a JV team so Sierra is filling the spot.
“We’ve got a challenging week ahead of us, they are a Valley Oak League school, a bigger school,” Rose said of Sierra. “They are 4-1, coming off a loss to Central Catholic.”
Kickoff is 5 p.m. Friday at Engel Field.
The scoreboard read 30-0 at the end of the Sept. 26 game and Escalon’s freshmen were on the wrong side of that final. Hilmar came in and shut out the youngest Cougars on Thursday night. It was 16-0 at the half.
“That by far is the best team we’ll see,” head coach Joey Costa said. “I was happy with the way we competed.”
Though it was a shutout loss, Costa said he and other coaches saw their team put up a good fight.
“I think we frustrated them,” he said. “Obviously we want to win but from the first snap to the last snap, we stayed at the same speed.”
They also had some miscues on offense that stopped drives and kept them off the scoreboard.
The team heads to Los Banos on Thursday night, Oct. 3 for a rematch with the Tigers.
“If we play hard for four quarters, there’s not a reason why we can’t win,” Costa said.