Escalon running back Kaden Christensen (3) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown during a Division VI CIF Sac-Joaquin playoff game between Escalon and Calaveras at Escalon High School in Escalon CA on November 9, 2018.
Escalon High did what its coach asked — focus on the here and now.
With potential matchups against Hilmar and Modesto Christian looming — the two teams that have kept the Cougars from an unbeaten season — Escalon paid attention to the immediate task at hand.
Using its punishing running game and stout defense, Escalon defeated Calaveras 39-15 on Friday night in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI playoffs.
Up next for the Cougars is a trip to Hilmar on Friday against a Yellowjackets team they lost to 20-17 in overtime in September.
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“We all wanted another shot at Hilmar and Modesto Christian,” first-year Escalon coach Andrew Beam said. “But Calaveras is too good of a team and too well-coached to look past.”
In a taut performance on offense, Escalon (9-2) scored on all three possessions in the first half, and took the opening kickoff and drove 70 yards for a 26-0 lead.
Running backs Colton Panero (11 carries, 65 yards two rushing touchdowns, one receiving TD), Luke Anderson (11 carries, 84 yards, one TD) and Kaden Christensen (eight carries, 59 yards and a TD) led the way. The first-team defense allowed just eight points.
“It’s a game we knew would be physical,” said Beam, whose team beat 7-5 Calaveras 21-7 in August. “Our defense was outstanding and our offense for one of the first times was clicking from the get-go.”
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A victory on Friday over Hilmar — certainly a tall order at the home of the No. 2-seed Yellowjackets (9-2), who beat Amador 44-7 on Friday — could result in a title game against a top-seeded Modesto Christian team it lost to 7-6.
First things first, though.
Beam said he and the team are going to do some heavy film study of their first meeting with Hilmar.
“The boys are excited we get another hack at them,” he said. “I don’t see there being much deviation from the first time because we know each other so well.”
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