Mem­bers of the Escalon High School band pro­vided mu­sic for the crowd at Fri­day night’s foot­ball game and the choir sang the Na­tional An­them prior to var­sity kick­off at En­gel Field.

Escalon Times - - FRONT PAGE - MARG JACK­SON/THE TIMES

Escalon’s first home game of the foot­ball sea­son went in the win col­umn.

Not only that, the win came against a re­cent neme­sis – Calav­eras – which had got­ten the bet­ter of the Cougars the past few times the teams have met.

This year, it was a sat­is­fy­ing win in that it gave first year var­sity head coach An­drew Beam his first home win in his first try and the team im­proved to 2-0 on the young cam­paign.

It also was sig­nif­i­cant in that the Cougars found a way to win on a night when the of­fense had trou­ble click­ing early on.

The fi­nal was 21-7 Escalon, with the Cougars scor­ing two unan­swered touch­downs in the sec­ond half to take the win.

“In the first quar­ter our de­fense played their butts off,” Beam said of the vis­i­tors main­tain­ing pos­ses­sion of the ball for much of that open­ing frame.

In the sec­ond quar­ter, it was Calav­eras get­ting on the board first, break­ing through with a lit­tle over three min­utes to play in the half.

“Calav­eras went on a re­ally long drive and capped it off with a one-yard run to go up 7-0,” Beam said.

Escalon saw its first three drives of the night stall out, forc­ing the punt, giv­ing Calav­eras mul­ti­ple chances with the ball. But the de­fen­sive ef­fort was strong and it was the de­fense that led to Escalon’s first touch­down of the night.

On an­other Cougar punt, the de­fense came through.

“Devin Rober­son knocked the ball loose from the punt re­turner and Ro­man Gon­za­les re­cov­ered it at mid­field,” Beam ex­plained.

That charged up the of­fense, with Luc­ciano Du­tra con­nect­ing on passes to Kaden Chris­tensen and Colton Panero on a march down the field.

“It was about a minute and a half drive, Luc­ciano found Kaden on a 10-yard pass play and the kick was good by Guillermo Al­varez,” Beam said. “It was a nice throw, Lucca threaded the nee­dle and Kaden bent in­side the safety.”

With the point af­ter, the Cougars knot­ted the game at 7-7 with just eight sec­onds to play in the first half.

“Right there you felt ev­ery­thing change,” Beam said, with the mo­men­tum tak­ing a turn in the Cougars’ fa­vor.

Go­ing into the locker room knot­ted at 7-7, Calav­eras got the ball to start the sec­ond half and the host team held them to a quick three and out, keep­ing the mo­men­tum on their side.

Escalon scored in the third quar­ter af­ter a long drive ended with a score from 16 yards out by Luke An­der­son. The kick was good by Al­varez to make it 14-7.

Late in the quar­ter, the Cougars had a chance for an­other score af­ter a solid punt re­turn by Chris­tensen but a cou­ple of penal­ties and then a bad snap on a field goal at­tempt ended the threat.

“I thought that was go­ing to come back to haunt us,” Beam ad­mit­ted of the missed chance to put more points on the board.

But he pointed to the strong play of the de­fense and the “great job by coach (Brandon) Hoover” to get the de­fense ready as be­ing key to the win.

“It was one of the best de­fen­sive ef­forts we’ve had,” Beam said.

The Cougars put their fi­nal score on the board in the fourth quar­ter, with a key re­cep­tion by Panero ex­tend­ing a drive and then ul­ti­mately Panero go­ing in on a 6-yard fly sweep, the kick goody by Al­varez, to make it 21-7.

“Then Frank Leal had an in­ter­cep­tion that helped se­cure the game,” Beam said. “I can’t give enough credit to our de­fense and our de­fen­sive coaches, there were seven, eight, nine guys that just stepped up and had great games.”

Rober­son, get­ting his first var­sity start, made his pres­ence felt.

“He played the en­tire game and had seven tack­les, just an un­be­liev­able ef­fort for the first var­sity start of his ca­reer,” Beam said. “This was a game where we found out how tough we were. We had re­silience, we were able to wear on them, we ba­si­cally out­lasted them … I’m so proud of our boys.”

The con­di­tion­ing the team has done paid off as well, as they stayed strong when Calav­eras started to fade.

“Ja­cob Walden, David Ca­ma­cho played every snap,” Beam pointed out. “Chris­tensen had over 200 yards of to­tal of­fense; he had eight catches for 129 yards and a touch­down, six car­ries for 36 yards and a 33-yard punt re­turn.”

Du­tra was 10-for-13 pass­ing for 170 yards and a touch­down. Panero had eight car­ries for 30 yards and a touch­down two catches for 41 yards and a nice punt re­turn, along with six tack­les de­fen­sively.

“Luke An­der­son had six car­ries for 24 yards and a touch­down and we also needed him on de­fense, he had four tack­les in­clud­ing one on a third and long that was huge,” said Beam.

Nash Sat­nat led the team in tack­les with eight on the night.

The Cougars had 284 to­tal yards of of­fense to the 233 by Calav­eras, with 170 pass­ing yards and 114 on the ground for the Cougars. They had 15 first downs, Calav­eras had 10.

Escalon now gets ready for an­other big pre­sea­son game, go­ing to Sonora to face the Wild­cats on Fri­day night, Aug. 31.

“It’s a team that’s ready to ex­plode of­fen­sively and they are tough at home,” Beam said.

The Wild­cats have been shut out in the first two games, at Oak­dale and this past week los­ing 34-0 to Ripon.

“This will be a big test,” Beam said.

Var­sity kick­off is sched­uled for 7 p.m. on Fri­day night.

Cheer­lead­ers took the field at half­time to per­form their rou­tine, with some high-fly­ing stunts to wow the crowd.

TIMES PHO­TOS BY MARG JACK­SON

Escalon’s Colton Panero, 2, keeps the Calav­eras de­fender at bay as he makes his way up the field on Fri­day night. The home opener at En­gel Field was a 21-7 win for the host Cougars and Panero scored one of the three Escalon touch­downs on the night.

Go­ing in low to tackle the ball car­rier was Frank Leal, mak­ing the stop on Fri­day night. He also had a fourth quar­ter in­ter­cep­tion that helped se­cure a Cougar vic­tory.

Quar­ter­back Luc­ciano Du­tra, at left, drops back to sur­vey the field be­fore send­ing off a pass on Fri­day night. He com­pleted 10-of-13 pass at­tempts in a 21-7 Cougar win over vis­it­ing Calav­eras.

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