New Tra­di­tions Tak­ing Hold For Escalon Cougar Foot­ball

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

An Escalon High School grad­u­ate him­self, An­drew Beam knows a lit­tle bit about tra­di­tion.

He was a stand­out quar­ter­back for the Cougars dur­ing his high school years and now, he is at the helm of the var­sity foot­ball pro­gram. A daunt­ing task; tak­ing over for the now-re­tired and long­time coach Mark Loureiro, one of the most dec­o­rated head coaches in the Sac-Joaquin Sec­tion dur­ing his decades at the helm.

For Beam, who moved up from his head coach­ing po­si­tion at the JV level to take over the var­sity, he wants to con­tinue the tra­di­tion of win­ning but is also bring­ing his own unique style to the game.

Fri­day night, as the Cougars en­tered Me­mo­rial Sta­dium for their first home game of the sea­son at En­gel Field, two flags were brought in as well, with play­ers car­ry­ing an Amer­i­can flag and a yel­low flag with a large pur­ple ‘E’ in the cen­ter. The flags were placed at mid­field dur­ing warmups be­fore be­ing taken off prior to the pre­sen­ta­tion of the col­ors by the Escalon Amer­i­can Le­gion color guard.

The game it­self was a bat­tle, one that saw a tremen­dous de­fen­sive ef­fort for the Cougars as they crafted a 21-7 win over ri­val Calav­eras, a team that has de­feated them the last few times the two have met.

Cougar play­ers were happy to

get the win in front of their home­town fans.

“Last year they pounded one (touch­down) late on us,” se­nior Frank Leal, one of this year’s team cap­tains, re­mem­bered of a tough loss last sea­son. “It was im­por­tant that we came out and got the win.”

He pointed to a late first half score by Escalon as shift­ing the mo­men­tum.

“It feels great,” ju­nior Kaden Chris­tensen added. “Play­ing un­der Coach Lou was spe­cial but now we’re writ­ing our own book, with Coach Beam, and this week we wrote Chapter 2 on our own field.”

Fel­low ju­nior Colton Panero said that the var­sity squad def­i­nitely wanted to show­case their abil­i­ties for the crowd.

“It was a lit­tle rough in the first half but we kept faith in each other,” he ad­mit­ted of fall­ing be­hind 7-0 be­fore knot­ting the score in the fi­nal sec­onds of the open­ing half. “We just never got down and get­ting that first win on our own field … I feel we showed who we re­ally are.”

Se­nior quar­ter­back Luc­ciano Du­tra agreed that the team didn’t get down when they fell be­hind but kept bat­tling.

“It was just tough­ness, hon­estly,” he said of get­ting back into the con­test and then scor­ing two unan­swered touch­downs in the sec­ond half. “We’re never go­ing to be a team that hangs our heads down.”

Get­ting the win was im­por­tant for the play­ers and Beam also in­tro­duced a new fea­ture at the end of the game. Where in past years, play­ers have gone through the hand­shake line with the other team and then raced to the end zone, this time they shook hands with their op­po­nents and came to the side­line, fac­ing the stands on the home side. There, ac­com­pa­nied by the cheer­lead­ers, the foot­ball play­ers sang the school’s Alma Mater, en­cour­ag­ing the crowd to join in.

“Every home game, win or lose, we are go­ing to do that,” Beam said. “It goes back to Escalon be­ing a school of tra­di­tion and it’s some­thing new I wanted to bring.”

The singing of the Alma Mater should help strengthen that ‘Eski High’ bond among the play­ers and fans and Beam said sup­port from the com­mu­nity will be cru­cial through­out the sea­son.

“Our com­mu­nity showed up on Fri­day night,” the new var­sity head coach said. “They were so sup­port­ive … our coaches and play­ers re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate it.”

Escalon goes on the road this Fri­day, Aug. 31 but will be back at home for a game against River City on Fri­day, Sept. 7.

MARG JACK­SON/THE TIMES

Af­ter tak­ing a hard fought win off the field on Fri­day night in their home sea­son opener, mem­bers of the Escalon var­sity foot­ball team cel­e­brated by fac­ing the crowd and, with help from the Cougar cheer­lead­ers, sang the alma mater. It is part of a new tra­di­tion that head coach An­drew Beam is start­ing with this year’s team.

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