“Coach Lou” Earns Win 280 In Trans-Val­ley League Fi­nale

Escalon Times - - FRONT PAGE - By MARG JACK­SON mjack­son@escalon­times.com

Win num­ber 280 came on Fri­day night.

Step­ping on to the foot­ball side­line at En­gel Field on Nov. 3, it was the fi­nal reg­u­lar sea­son home game for var­sity foot­ball head coach Mark Loureiro.

His Cougars – and a sup­port­ive crowd – helped him make the most of the evening by win­ning the game against long­time ri­val Hugh­son, 480.

The win earned Escalon a share of this sea­son’s Trams-Val­ley League ti­tle – tied at 4-1 with both Modesto Chris­tian and Ripon – and also so­lid­i­fied a num­ber two seed for the Cougars in the Sac-Joaquin Sec­tion Di­vi­sion VI play­offs, al­low­ing them to host a game this Thurs­day night, Nov. 9.

The pomp and cir­cum­stance prior to the con­test, how­ever, was to cel­e­brate Loureiro’s nearly three decade ten­ure at the helm of the var­sity Cougars. He took over the pro­gram in 1989 and has now recorded 280 ca­reer vic­to­ries with just 68 losses and one tie.

Pub­lic ad­dress an­nouncer Greg Lar­gent reeled off the litany of ac­com­plish­ments, as a hum­ble Loureiro stood on the field, sur­rounded by cur­rent and for­mer play­ers.

“He has led his Cougars to 25 C.I.F. play­off ap­pear­ances, 14 TVL Ti­tles, has won the Di­vi­sion 4 Sec­tion Ti­tle eight times, and his teams of 1993, 1996, and 2010 were crowned State Cham­pi­ons,” Lar­gent an­nounced. “Coach Mark Loureiro and the Escalon Cougars have the most suc­cess­ful foot­ball pro­gram in the SacJoaquin Sec­tion list­ing.”

Loureiro’s record, added Lar­gent, “ranks him sec­ond to Coach Bob Ladouceur of DeLaSalle High in the en­tire State of Cal­i­for­nia.”

Loureiro has been hon­ored as State Coach of the Year two times, in 1993 and 2010.

Play­ers from the past 29 sea­sons gath­ered on the field to honor their coach, who smiled at the mem­o­ries and tried to keep his emo­tions in check as the re­al­ity of the sit­u­a­tion be­gan to sink in.

He stepped on the field as a ball boy for his fa­ther, Bob, when he was coach­ing the Cougars and moved through the ranks to be­come a stat keeper and then took the field as a player. Fol­low­ing col­lege, he re­turned to teach and coach at EHS and took over the var­sity pro­gram in 1989. He also has served for many years as the school’s Ath­letic Direc-

tor.

For Loureiro, hav­ing Hugh­son come in for the reg­u­lar sea­son fi­nale was fit­ting, as they are long­time ri­vals of the Cougars. The foot­ball team’s shutout win to cel­e­brate both Se­nior Night and his pend­ing re­tire­ment made it that much sweeter.

“I tell you what, I was speech­less and that doesn’t hap­pen very of­ten,” Loureiro ad­mit­ted fol­low­ing the cer­e­mony.

The cel­e­bra­tion also in­cluded recog­ni­tion for Loureiro’s wife Lisa and their three chil­dren, along with two grand­chil­dren that Loureiro will have more time for once the foot­ball sea­son ends.

“We’re start­ing to peak at the right time,” the coach added af­ter the game was in the win col­umn on Fri­day night. “My fi­nal reg­u­lar sea­son game, I couldn’t ask for any­thing bet­ter. Things got more dif­fi­cult as this week went on, more than I imag­ined, but I’m just try­ing to soak it all up.”

Fri­day evening’s fes­tiv­i­ties in­cluded the pre­sen­ta­tion of a spe­cial show­piece for Loureiro, a col­lec­tion of three rings dis­played un­der a glass dome, pre­sented by his fa­ther. One is his high school ring, one is a state cham­pi­onship ring and one is a ring with a few num­bers still to be de­ter­mined – it will be en­graved with his fi­nal num­bers as a coach af­ter the Cougars con­clude the 2017 play­off run.

The coach has seen an es­ti­mated 1,500 play­ers through the Cougar sys­tem dur­ing his ten­ure and has in­stilled the ‘Cougar Pride Never Dies’ men­tal­ity for years.

Other gifts were pre­sented to the coach as well, and the long-time tri tip team of Lee, Rob and Keith Rigg were also saluted as they ‘re­tire’ from that task af­ter years of grilling up the meat on Fri­day nights.

“I re­ally just want to ex­press all my ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the sup­port, to the ad­min­is­tra­tion, the fans, the kids, the ex-play­ers, all the peo­ple that turned out and rolled be­hind this thing,” Loureiro said.

Now, the var­sity squad heads to the sec­ond sea­son and is looking for a deep run, hop­ing to keep their coach on the field for a few more games.

Lar­gent was able to sum up the feel of the evening as the crowd show­ered Loureiro with ap­plause.

“Coach Loureiro’s ded­i­ca­tion and love for the Pur­ple and Gold of Escalon High, its stu­dents and the peo­ple of the Escalon com­mu­nity have been the driv­ing force be­hind his com­mit­ment to ex­cel­lence,” Lar­gent said. “Please know that you will be truly missed and al­ways loved by the Pur­ple and Gold of Escalon – you are the ul­ti­mate Cougar For Life.”

MARG JACK­SON/THE TIMES

Ac­cept­ing a spe­cial me­mento of his time coach­ing the var­sity foot­ball Cougars, head coach Mark Loureiro, left, ac­cepts a group­ing of three rings un­der glass, pre­sented by his fa­ther Bob prior to kick­off of the var­sity game Fri­day night at En­gel Field. Mark Loureiro will re­tire from coach­ing at the end of this sea­son; he has coached the var­sity since 1989.

MARG JACK­SON/THE TIMES

Var­sity play­ers make their way back onto the field for Fri­day night’s con­test with Hugh­son. The team se­cured a big win for their coach in his fi­nal reg­u­lar sea­son game, de­feat­ing the Huskies 48-0.

MARG JACK­SON/THE TIMES

Past play­ers came to ap­plaud the ca­reer of Mark Loureiro on Fri­day night, Nov. 3, join­ing the cel­e­bra­tion with a full house for the reg­u­lar sea­son fi­nale. The Cougars claimed a share of the league ti­tle with a shutout win over Hugh­son.

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