Escalon Times - - FRONT PAGE - By MARG JACK­SON mjack­son@escalon­ TIMES PHO­TOS BY MARG JACK­SON

Touch­downs in each of the first and sec­ond quar­ters staked Escalon to a 14-0 half­time lead and they never let down in a road win against Sonora.

The fi­nal score in the Aug. 31 game was 34-6 in fa­vor of the Cougars, who won their third straight pre­sea­son con­test, this time against the host Wild­cats.

As they have so far this sea­son, the Cougars took ad­van­tage of win­ning the coin toss to start out on the of­fen­sive side of the ball, some­thing that coach An­drew Beam said he likes to do to get the team go­ing.

“Early in the week, we knew we wanted to make a state­ment,” Beam said. “We took the kick­off and had a great open­ing drive and ul­ti­mately scored on a 17-yard pass to Colton Panero from Luc­ciano Du­tra, a touch­down that was set up by the 32-yard run by Kaden Chris­tensen on the first run of the game.”

Guillermo Al­varez had the point after for an early 7-0 Escalon lead. Panero made a nice over-the-shoul­der catch in the cor­ner of the end zone, fight­ing off the de­fender for the open­ing drive touch­down.

In the sec­ond quar­ter, Panero fig­ured in to the scor­ing drive again, with a carry of 39 yards and then a de­ter­mined run from 21 yards out, giv­ing a sec­ond ef­fort even as he was go­ing down, stretch­ing out to get the ball across the line into the end zone. Al­varez added the ex­tra point and it was 14-0 Cougars.

The de­fense was once again strong and was suc­cess­ful in shut­ting down the Wild­cat drives early, com­ing up with the big stop when needed. Host Sonora looked to get some­thing go­ing as the sec­ond half wound down but again were stymied by the Cougars.

“We got a re­ally nice stop just be­fore the half and that killed some mo­men­tum,” Beam said.

Up by two scores at the half, Escalon was on the de­fen­sive to open up the sec­ond half, with the Wild­cats tak­ing the kick­off.

But it was a short-lived pos­ses­sion for the home team, which was still look­ing for its first points of the sea­son, hav­ing been shut out pre­vi­ously by Oak­dale and Ripon.

“In that third quar­ter, we got a stop and then we went on a tra­di­tional six- to seven-minute Cougar drive down the field,” ex­plained Beam. “Luke An­der­son took the ball in from a yard out and with the kick by Guillermo, we went up 21-0.”

The Cougar fans in the stands had plenty to cheer about, as their squad kept the Wild­cats in check, con­tin­u­ally frus­trat­ing them.

“It feels good to come out on a mil­lion dol­lar field and get the win,” ad­mit­ted ju­nior de­fen­sive tackle Damien Tom, who recorded eight tack­les and one sack on the night. “I think we wanted it more, I was think­ing 44-14 but I’ll take 34-6.”

Se­nior de­fen­sive end Cole Gil­bert said the team worked hard to pre­pare for the Wild­cats and get­ting the road win was sat­is­fy­ing for them all.

“I feel like we’ve out con­di­tioned other teams,” Gil­bert added of hav­ing the stamina to stay strong as the game wears on. “We just have the heart.”

Lead­ing by the three touch­down edge head­ing into the fi­nal quar­ter, the var­sity Cougars weren’t done.

“We got Luke An­der­son on four straight car­ries, right up the mid­dle, the third carry was for 39 yards and then he ran it in for a 5-yard touch­down,” Beam said.

This time, Ricky Erazo came on to kick the ex­tra point and it was 28-0 Cougars with a lit­tle un­der 10 min­utes to go in the game.

“We started to wear on them,” noted the coach.

But Sonora found a way to dig deep and fi­nally got on the score­board, avoid­ing their third straight shutout and bring­ing the game to 28-6 with 7:13 to play.

“They put together a nice drive to score,” ad­mit­ted Beam.

How­ever, that one time in the end zone was the only one the home team would get and Escalon would get it back be­fore the end of the game.

With just over two min­utes to go, Escalon com­pleted a drive with a 13yard pass to Kaidence Trejo from Du­tra for the score. The ex­tra point at­tempt failed but that made it 34-6, which would also be the fi­nal score.

“That took the wind out of their sails,” Beam said.

Mul­ti­ple play­ers got in­volved in the ac­tion, with the sec­ond of­fense and de­fense see­ing some time on the field late in the game.

“I feel like we came out and were able to do what we wanted to do,” ju­nior wide re­ceiver/de­fen­sive back Trejo said.

He added that the Cougars were ready for the on­side kick that the Wild­cats at­tempted late in the game and were able to re­tain pos­ses­sion, ef­fec­tively seal­ing the win.

Pulling in his first re­cep­tion of the sea­son was ju­nior Miguel Souza.

“It felt so good to get my first catch,” he ad­mit­ted. “It’s just awe­some to play with ev­ery­one, to be in the prime of ev­ery­thing. In the sec­ond half we were just work­ing on mak­ing ad­just­ments, just im­prov­ing … we play as a fam­ily, it’s us against the other team and it’s all about who’s bet­ter, who’s stronger. Right now, it’s us.”

Beam pointed to the Cougars win­ning the turnover bat­tle again as be­ing one of the keys.

“Gar­rett Nash, Ethan Krieger and Luke An­der­son all had fum­ble re­cov­er­ies,” Beam said. “Our down line­men played great, Damien Tom had eight tack­les and a sack, Cole Gil­bert had two sacks, Nash Sat­nat had seven tack­les.”

Of­fen­sively, the Cougars were able to wear down the Wild­cats, com­ing in with plenty of weapons. In the sec­ond half alone, Escalon ran 27 rush­ing plays and churned up 115 yards.

An­der­son was the lead­ing rusher on the night, 19 car­ries for 112 yards and two touch­downs. Panero had four car­ries for 76 yards and a touch­down along with a touch­down re­cep­tion. Trejo had two catches for 26 yards and a score.

“Luc­ciano was ef­fi­cient again at quar­ter­back, he was 7-for-11 in pass­ing for 73 yards and two touch­downs,” Beam said.

Escalon had 356 yards, 283 on the ground and 73 through the air. They had 14 first downs on the night, 10 of them by rush­ing. They were pe­nal­ized seven times for 65 yards.

Sonora also had 14 first downs on Fri­day night but was held to 223 yards, 179 rush­ing and 44 pass­ing.

Escalon did not turn the ball over.

“We’ve been able to pro­tect the ball, that’s been im­por­tant,” Beam said.

Pro­tect­ing the ball and fir­ing on all cylin­ders will be keys this week as well, as Escalon re­turns home to take on the River City Raiders, a team out of West Sacra­mento.

“They’re Divi­sion I, they have a lot of ath­leti­cism and they may be 0-3 but they’ve lost to three good schools,” Beam ex­plained. “They bring a lot of speed to the game and this should be a good fi­nal tune up be­fore league.”

The var­sity is sched­uled for a 7:30 p.m. kick­off on Fri­day, Sept. 7 at En­gel Field.

Var­sity Cougar quar­ter­back Luc­ciano Du­tra, cen­ter, hands the ball off to full­back Luke An­der­son dur­ing Fri­day night’s road game at Sonora. An­der­son had two touch­downs in the 34-6 Escalon vic­tory.

Get­ting the op­por­tu­nity late in the game to run the ball, ju­nior Ethan Krieger, 22, bat­tles for pos­i­tive yardage as the Sonora Wild­cat player tries to con­tain him near the side­line.

With a solid ef­fort here, Escalon’s Miguel Souza wraps up the Wild­cat run­ner dur­ing a Fri­day night road game for the var­sity Cougars. They took a 34-6 vic­tory off the field against host Sonora.

Escalon’s Gar­rett Nash, 11, leaves his feet as he tries to take down the run­ner in non-league ac­tion Fri­day night, Aug. 31. It was the third straight win for the var­sity Cougars, this time de­feat­ing Sonora.

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