In a game where pretty much everything went the Cougars’ way, the varsity football team made the most of its opportunities and defeated visiting Union Mine by a 58-0 final on Friday night.
The season opener at home on Aug. 23 saw multiple players get in on the scoring and they gave the crowd plenty to cheer about, rolling to a 51-0 halftime advantage. That meant a running clock for the second half and the Cougars added one final touchdown before the game was over, getting the season started on a winning note.
“We just overwhelmed them, we played really fast and kept the pressure on them defensively,” pointed out varsity head coach Andrew Beam. “They never had the chance to breathe.”
Defensively, the Cougars forced seven turnovers on the night, with three interceptions and four fumble recoveries.
“We also had three sacks on the night,” Beam said. “Offensively, the first group didn’t half to punt at all in the first half.”
Escalon took the opening kickoff and found the end zone on their first drive, setting the tone for the night.
It was an 11-yard run from Colton Panero to the end zone and Brayan Barrientos added the extra point for the early 7-0 lead, getting on the scoreboard with 7:55 to play in the first quarter.
Then it was a 9-yard catch by Logan Webster, from quarterback Ty Harris, with the kick good, for a 14-0 lead. A bad snap on a punt attempt on Union Mine’s next possession put the Cougars in good position and Luke Anderson went in from a yard out, kick good, for a 21-0 lead.
The final score of the first quarter came on a 23-yard pass play from Harris to Kaden Christensen, kick good, to make it 28-0 after one quarter of play.
Christensen found the end zone again on a 20-yard run in the second quarter, then it was a 36-yard field goal by Barrientos to put the Cougars up by a 38-0 score.
With 3:39 to go in the half, Miguel Souza Jr. picked up the interception, after the pass was deflected by a teammate, and returned it 46 yards for the score. The kick was wide left but the host Cougars had a 44-0 advantage.
After a fumble recovery by Jacob Walden – who put pressure on the quarterback and forced the fumble, then jumped on it – the give was to Christensen and he went 24 yards for the score. The kick was good and it was a 51-0 halftime lead.
Capping the scoring for the Cougars was Dylan Parks, who went in from 3 yards out in the fourth quarter, with the kick good, for the 58-0 final.
“I think we got some of the sour taste out of our mouths from last season,” said David Camacho, one of this year’s team captains, who noted they were glad to start off strong and forget about their season-ending loss last year. “I just did what my coaches told me to do.”
For Camacho, that meant a monster game, with five tackles and one-and-a-half sacks, earning him the coveted wrestling-style belt that is awarded by Beam to the outstanding player after each game.
Jacob Walden also had a strong game, helping key the defensive effort.
“We went into this thinking it was going to be a dogfight so that’s what we prepared for,” he said.
Last year, Escalon got the win against the Diamondbacks but it was a close game that could have gone either way. This year, the Cougars were dominant.
An early unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Diamondbacks – when a player leveled a late hit at Garrett Nash – seemed to galvanize the Cougars and Nash said he was happy to take the hit to serve as the rallying point.
“We feel great and we wanted to send a message to the TVL that we’re coming for them,” he said.
Tackle and defensive lineman Damien Tom said everyone was on the same page and that helped earn the win.
“We definitely weren’t expecting to win 58-0,” he admitted. “But we’ll take it and keep on trucking; we’ll bring it every time.”
Also happy with the effort was Kaden Christensen, who said it was good to “get the juices flowing” once again and get back on the gridiron.
Beam said the Union Mine team definitely had some distractions – their head coach recently diagnosed with cancer – but the Cougars played a solid game to get the win.
Walden had a sack and two fumble recoveries, Tom had three pressures on the quarterback and a half sack, while Camacho had the five tackles and one-and-a-half sacks.
Kaidence Trejo, Souza and Daniel Corral all had interceptions, Christensen had two fumble recoveries.
“We had a really nice game from Ty Harris, he was 9-for-11 for 126 yards and two touchdowns,” Beam said. “The offensive line did very well.”
Escalon had 268 rushing yards and 126 passing, while Union Mine was held to 13 yards rushing and had 135 passing yards.
Beam offered a shout out and word of thanks to the grounds crew at EHS – specifically John Lial and Steve Lewis – along with the rest of the maintenance staff in getting Engel Field ready for the opening night festivities.
“There’s always room for improvement,” Beam added of what needs to be worked on by the team. “The next two weeks will be physical, facing Calaveras and Sonora, we know those mountain schools will be tough.”
He said those games will be key tests for the Cougars and, especially this week, as they head to Calaveras for a Friday night game, Aug. 30.
Last year, Escalon defeated Calaveras twice, in their season opener and, in the playoffs, ending the season for Calaveras.
“They’re highly motivated,” Beam said of their Friday night opponent.