Escalon’s freshmen opened up the football season with a loss to Merced at Engel Field on Thursday, while the JV team put up a win against Linden on Friday.
For the JV Cougars, they ran out to an early 21-0 lead and forced five turnovers on Friday night on the way to the victory.
The final was 34-14 Escalon, defeating the visiting Linden Lions on Aug. 20.
“Our running game was really hitting on all cylinders,” head coach Brant Rose said of the JV squad.
Josh Graham scored the first touchdown of the night, a 2-yard run, in the first quarter but the point after attempt was blocked, making it 6-0 Escalon. Graham found the end zone again in the second quarter on a 4-yard rush, this time with Nate Krieger taking the 2-point conversion in for a 14-0 advantage.
Rounding out the first half scoring for the host JV Cougars, Talan Reider broke free on a 61-yard run for the touchdown and then kicked the extra point, lifting the JV boys to a 21-0 lead.
“Linden scored as time expired, it was on a 19-yard passing play for a touchdown, then they converted a pass play for the two points and that made it 21-8 at halftime,” Rose explained. “We were our own worst enemies, two fumbles that kind of gave them opportunities to stay in the game. It looked like we were pulling away, but we fumbled in the second that led to their score and fumbled again in the third quarter that led to their score.”
Up 21-8, Escalon added another touchdown in the third, quarterback Jagger Scott going in from a yard out; kick attempt was no good, putting the JV team up 27-8. Linden then capitalized on a 9-yard rushing play, conversion attempt was no good, to cut the lead to 27-14.
Escalon’s final score of the night came in the fourth quarter, an 11-yard rushing play from Matthew Rangel and the extra point kick by Reider making it 34-14.
“It was a good win, a good way to start the season,” Rose said.
He said though his team did have several turnovers that helped Linden score, the JV Cougars also capitalized on their chances. Alan Jimenez and Carson Medina each had an interception for Escalon, while Ben Lora, Nate Krieger and Ian Armstrong had fumble recoveries.
The JV boys will travel to Calaveras for a game on Friday, Aug. 27.
The first game of the season for the youngest Cougars ended in a 33-0 defeat, hosting and falling to the Merced Bears.
“We have quite a few kids who have never played football before,” said head coach Joey Costa of this year’s freshman team.
Numbers are good, though, and he said the players are eager to learn and are working hard.
“We were down 16-0 at halftime, defensively we played a pretty good first half, we gave up a touchdown late but offensively we just couldn’t get much going,” Costa explained of the Augh. 19 game.
Escalon was victimized by four turnovers and stamina was also an issue, the team running out of gas before the end of the game. The lack of offensive production also meant the defense was on the field for much of the contest and Merced was able to capitalize with another 17 points in the second half to walk away with the 33-0 victory.
“We do have some injuries to some kids that do have experience,” Costa added.
He noted that he doesn’t feel Merced outclassed his team, they just made more of their opportunities.
This week, the freshmen are scheduled to play at Bret Harte, which this year does not have a varsity team so Escalon will face a combination of freshmen, sophomores and juniors when they travel to Angels Camp on Aug. 26.
“We want to play and get good experience,” Costa said, with an eye toward the players learning and growing in both skills and game knowledge so they can take that experience on to the JV and varsity levels.