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TVL Opener Cougars Claw Through Knights
Bringing an overpowering game to the field, Escalon's varsity football team grabbed a 63-0 victory on Friday night, running away from visiting Ripon Christian in the Trans-Valley League opener.

The Knights were hampered by low numbers, their team just running out of gas before the final gun sounded. Escalon coach Mark Loureiro substituted freely, getting his second and third unit players plenty of time.

"Ripon Christian got themselves in a spot where they have just 15, 16 kids so by the time the second half comes, they're tired out," Loureiro explained. "Our second and third guys are fresh, they want to get in there and make something happen."

The disparity in team numbers played into Escalon's favor, with several different players getting into the scoring column.

Three Cougar touchdowns in the first quarter put RC into an early 21-0 hole and it didn't get much better from there. In the absence of senior starter Spencer Franceschetti, junior quarterback Brandon Shaw stepped up to run the offense efficiently, connecting on three of four passes - two of them for touchdowns - and logged some valuable playing time with the first offensive unit.

Escalon added two more touchdowns in each of the final three quarters for the 63-0 final, Jason Diniz tacking on every extra point after the touchdowns.

In the first quarter, Josh Miguel went in on a 16-yard run and Diniz scored on a 2-yard run. Shaw and Miguel then hooked up on a 28-yard pass play.

"It was a great throw, a great catch in the corner of the end zone," Loureiro said of the touchdown strike.

Steve Silva joined the scoring parade in the second quarter on a 2-yard run and Diniz added his second score of the night, pulling in a 48-yard pass from Shaw for the touchdown.

"Jason kicked all our extra points, he's one of our leading rushers, he's a kick returner, a defensive back, does all our kickoffs," Loureiro noted of Diniz. "He's just that silent warrior for us."

In the third quarter, Colin Keener had the run of the night, a 93-yard rumble, kicking just a little faster than the pursuing Ripon Christian defense, getting in for the touchdown. James Hill then got in on the action, scoring on a 13-yard run.

Fourth quarter scoring included a 1-yard touchdown plunge from senior Zac Baker - the first of his career - and a 14-yard rushing touchdown from Mikey Simoes.

"That was great for us to see as coaches," Loureiro said of so many players getting a chance to take part in the big win. "These second and third unit kids work hard all week in practice and this was a time they were getting their opportunity and they were being successful."

Loureiro also was pleased with the effort of junior signal caller Shaw.

"He looked great, completed some passes and that's something that's going to play big for us in the future, getting a full game under his belt with the first unit," Loureiro explained.

Ripon Christian could never get much going against the tough Cougar defense, held to just 70 total yards of offense and with only four first downs all night long.

Escalon kicked off to Ripon Christian, but they didn't make much headway before having to punt the ball away. Escalon scored with less than four minutes gone in the game, Miguel running in from 16 yards and Diniz adding the first of nine extra points on the night with 8:04 left in the first quarter.

An 18-yard pass reception by David Pickhartz for a first down kept the next drive going and Diniz converted a few plays later for touchdown number two. The third was set up by a long run from Silva, then Shaw connected with Miguel in the end zone for a 21-0 lead after one quarter.

Ripon Christian did stop an Escalon drive early in the second, recovering a fumble at the 2-yard line for one of the bright spots in an otherwise dismal night for the Knights.

With Escalon getting the kickoff to start the second half, already up 35-0, Loureiro started giving many of his starters a rest. Miguel was in for the kickoff and had a short return, but the play was pushed back even further by a Cougar penalty.

On the next play, Keener got the draw up the middle and went 93 yards for the score, putting his team up 42-0 after the kick by Diniz, with 11:35 to go in the third.

A great block by Victor Carrillo set up the nice 13-yard touchdown run by Hill, also in the third, and Baker had a handful of carries on the night, one resulting in his entry into the end zone That score came with 10:11 to go in the fourth.

What looked like a broken play and a possible fumble instead was turned in to a touchdown by Simoes, going in from 14 yards out with just 2 minutes left in the game.

"Victor Carrillo did a nice job with the first defense, he had seven tackles and one sack, David Gonzales and Nick Largent each had five tackles," Loureiro said of the overall effort. "Adrian Cortes and Colin Keener did a nice job and Tym Blair and James Hill have proven valuable for us, going in to spell some guys."

Good work also came from Adam Jefferson, Brandon Barnett and the Hughes brothers, James and Aaron.

Loureiro said he was pleased to see all the extra points go through this week, as Diniz, holder Shaw and snapper Carrillo spent a lot of time working on it in practice during the week.

Leading rusher for Escalon was Colin Keener, four carries for 107 yards, followed by Miguel, 5-for-87; Silva, 9-for-56; Diniz, 11-for-52.

Top receiver was Diniz, one pass reception for 40 yards, followed by Miguel, 1-for-23 and Pickhartz, 1-for-18.

Recovering fumbles for the Cougars were Anthony Munoz and Adrian Cortes.

Escalon was one of three Trans-Valley League teams getting wins this week, with Modesto Christian and Ripon also notching victories to start the league season at 1-0.





RUSHING YARDS 22-42 48-395

ATT-COMP-INT 11-4-0 4-3-0



PENALTIES 0-0 3-20