HUGHSON — A strong start pushed Escalon past Hughson for a 41-26 win in their Trans-Valley League finale.
Kaden Christensen got things started late in the first quarter with an 18-yard rushing touchdown to put the Cougars ahead 7-0. One minute later, Christensen ran into the end zone once again, this time from 67 yards to give his team a 14-0 cushion.
“It feels good to pick up the win against our rival. The TVL is the hardest league around here in my opinion,” said Christensen, the FrontRowPreps.com Player of the Game. “Heading into next week, we need to get healthy and get back to the Escalon football that many know of.”
Christensen finished with three touchdowns and 273 rushing yards.
The second quarter saw its ups and downs on both sides of the fields.
Escalon's Jaden Fontes extended the lead to 21-0 with a 1-yard run. When Hughson’s starting quarterback went down with an apparent shoulder injury moments later, backup Jaxon Davis entered the game. Davis threw a 21-yard bullet pass to Clayton Dowdy to give Hughson their very first points of the game. Colton Panero answered for the Cougars, rushing for a 61-yard touchdown.
Panero and Christensen each had second-half touchdowns, while Damien Contreras, Carlos Arreola and Robert Saldivar all had scores for Hughson. The Huskies used three quarterbacks, but still managed to score the most points of any team on Escalon's schedule.
“Anytime you get a win in the TVL against a rival you’ll take it. The top five teams in this league are on a different level than we have seen in the past that’s for sure” said Escalon coach Andrew Beam. “Our intensity and our focus is going to change. We had so much emotion in the three prior to this with Hilmar, (Modesto Christian) and Ripon that we have been trying to recuperate, and the energy going into the playoffs is something different.”
Despite the loss, Hughson's first-year coach, Shaun King, was pleased with the execution and fight.
“I am happy with the way we did. I brought back the same game plan we had versus Stagg and I am happy with the execution,” King said. “The TVL is the cream of the crop, it’s a dominant league filled with tough battles.”
Both team’s now await their seedings in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI bracket, set to be released at 4:30 p.m. on the section's live selection show.
This article was written by Hughson senior Conor McGill. Follow him on Twitter @ConorMcGill10.