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TVL Champs - Cougars Blast Past Crusaders In League Finale
For just the seventh time in school history, the varsity football team has completed a perfect league season.

In fact, the Cougars are on a roll, handling all opponents in preseason and league play, going 10-0 so far this season. They enter the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs hitting on all cylinders, hosting No. 16 seed Marysville on Friday night at Engel Field.

To get to 10-0, the Cougars had to take on Modesto Christian in the regular season finale and the 2011 varsity squad left no doubt; they thrashed the Crusaders in a 69-7 romp, the only blemish one missed extra point on 10 touchdowns while allowing just one score from a highly touted team.

"I was hoping for an offensive explosion, get back on track," said head coach Mark Loureiro of the scoring attack, after a couple of low-scoring contests.

Josh Miguel handled most of the scoring in the first half, but it was the work of the back up players that was most satisfying to all involved, as the seconds proved they are capable of handling the load as well.

Nathan Chunn scored twice, with scores also from Joey Ratto, Dylan Furtado and Justin Camara, all getting in the end zone in the second half to put an exclamation point on the win.

"I knew we should be able to move the ball, I just didn't think we would move it that effectively," Loureiro said.

He also dismissed the naysayers that suggested MC held out its best players since they were already assured a playoff berth with their five wins. The Cougars kept the lid on standout quarterback Nate Sudfeld, with hurries, sacks and pressure all night long. Loureiro said that defensive effort was the difference, as MC did not hold back.

"There's no question about that, they are a good team and that is a very good quarterback," Loureiro said.

Sudfeld, in fact, has committed to play for the University of Arizona but looked overwhelmed by the tenacious Cougar defense.

"Going 10-0 was important to that group of seniors," Loureiro said of the Class of 2012 wanting to make a statement.

He also praised the juniors, who took his words to heart, when he told them to "play their butts off" to insure the seniors went out on a winning note in their regular season home finale.

"The kids really did a great job," Loureiro said. "It was nice to get everyone involved."

To say Miguel ran wild would be an understatement; the senior who has played bigger than his 5-9, 180-pound size since making his varsity debut as a sophomore, had 236 yards in the first half alone. He accounted for 247 total yards on 14 carries and scored four touchdowns.

As a sophomore, he was part of a loss to MC on the home field in Escalon and he hasn't forgotten that. It's what drove him on Friday.

"I definitely had some feelings going into this," Miguel admitted. "We wanted to go 10-0, we wanted to show our opponents we are for real and we saw this as another playoff game."

If that's any indication of what Escalon plans to do in the playoffs, the rest of the D IV bracket better take notice.

The fact that three juniors accounted for four scores, Chunn, Camara and a pass pulled in by tight end Alex Loureiro, should also serve notice that the junior class is ready to step up and take the lead next year.

"It feels great, an unbelievable feeling," said junior Alan Gonzalez, one of the defensive standouts on Friday. "I'm going to miss this senior class, they have shown such leadership and I know I'll have to step up next year."

For Loureiro, nephew of the head coach, pulling in the touchdown pass from quarterback Gino Franceschetti was a satisfying way to cap the league play.

"We practice that every single day but I was really nervous," he admitted.

The ball was on the money and Loureiro didn't falter, pulling it in and making his way to the end zone for his first varsity touchdown.

First quarter touchdowns were both by Miguel, a 13-yard run, a 45-yard run, with Franceschetti adding the kick for the point after both times.

It was 14-0 after one, with Matt Roberson sharing the ball carrying duties with Miguel in the first quarter and getting close to 100 yards himself for the contest. Alex Loureiro pulled in the 29-yard pass with the kick good by Franceschetti to start the second quarter, with Miguel then adding an 80-yard run that brought the crowd to its feet.

The extra point was no good but the Cougars were in command at 27-0. A 34-yard pass play by Modesto Christian and the point after gave the Crusaders some life at 27-7 but the Cougars then ran the two-minute drill to near perfection, Miguel scoring on a 2-yard run after the Cougars drove the length of the field, Franceschetti capping it off with the kick to make it 34-7 at halftime.

With the weather getting colder and the wind picking up, the 'seconds' came in to put the game out of reach in the second half.

Joey Ratto scored on a 5-yard run, then Nathan Chunn went in back-to-back times from 3 yards out each time and Dylan Furtado took one in from 16 yards out in the third quarter. Each time, Franceschetti added the point after, making it 62-7 after three quarters.

The final touchdown came on a 54-yard run from Justin Camara and with the kick by Franceschetti, the final was 69-7.

"We rushed for 521 yards and we just kind of smashed it," coach Loureiro said of breaking down the Crusaders.

As explosive as the offense was, Loureiro pointed to the defensive effort as also being huge.

"Our defense is the strength of our team," he said. "You are talking about a top quality quarterback and we had four sacks and kept him under pressure all night."

Shane Silveira had two sacks, eight tackles and forced several hurried throws. Alan Gonzales and Alejandro Ortega also each recorded a sack. Franceschetti and Johnathon Costa each had an interception and Furtado scooped up a fumble recovery.

"It feels good, being part of this team," said Ortega, who has come on strong defensively. "I love playing football, that's what I enjoy doing."

Silveira also was happy with the outcome, having one of his best games of the season on Senior Night.

"I knew they could make some big plays and it was fun to play against them," he said. "We wanted to send a message, I know we're going to have a good run in the playoffs and hopefully we can get to the finals again."

A total team effort was key in bringing the TVL title to Escalon, said Loureiro, with many players contributing.

"Ian Fitzgerald continued his outstanding play, he had six tackles, Josh Miguel also had six tackles," said the coach. "We held them to 153 total yards."

Modesto Christian was held to minus nine yards rushing and Sudfeld completed 15-of-30 passes for 162 yards. Escalon had 521 yards rushing on 49 carries and passed for 52 yards, a total of 573 yards with 18 first downs. MC fumbled three times and lost it once and the Cougars picked off two passes. Escalon had no fumbles, no interceptions.

"We won the battle of turnovers again, we take away more than we give," Loureiro said.

Escalon will open up defense of its Section title with a Friday night game, Nov. 11 hosting the second seed from the Golden Empire League, Marysville. Game time is 7 p.m. at Engel Field.