The Hughson High School Huskies called a timeout with 5:01 left and assessed: fourth and a long one yard from their own 39, a 21-14 lead and winless against Escalon since 2000.
That last point made their choice a no-brainer.
Hughson possessed the perfect weapon for that moment – 235-pound fullback Justice Futch, who pounded forward for the pivotal first down. Five plays later, quarterback Walter Fountain bootlegged 44 yards for the touchdown that iced the Huskies’ long-awaited 28-14 victory Friday.
Players on both teams were toddlers the last time Hughson got the best of its Trans-Valley League rival, a point not lost on veteran coach Reyn Franca. The Huskies, featuring nine seniors on offense, refused to punt to Escalon and its winning tradition.
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“We told them before the game, ‘This is your moment, your destiny. What are you going to do with it?’ ” Franca said. “They had the capabilities to start their own tradition. Why rely on the past?”
2000The last time Hughson beat Escalon before Friday night
Hughson (6-0, 1-0) overpowered Escalon most of the game behind Futch (22 carries, 149 yards, two touchdowns) and quick tailback Cesar Cuevas (21 carries, 172 yards). Whenever important yards were needed, Futch, Cuevas or Fountain collected them.
It’s Futch, however, who defines the straight-ahead Huskies. They pounded for touchdowns on their first two series, both finished by Futch on runs of five and 13 yards. He sledgehammered through a large chunk of the Escalon defense for the second score.
“Futch is the heart of our offense,” Franca said. “You’re not going to stop him all the time.”
Escalon (3-3, 0-1), down 14-0 before it made a first down, didn’t submit easily. Though the Cougars were outgained 446-225 yards, they found some traction behind senior quarterback Dylan Azevedo, who passed for touchdowns to Sam Lattig and Hunter Calton.
A two-point conversion pass to Dustin Lawrence pulled the Cougars within 21-14, and an interception and return to midfield by Bo Capps handed Escalon the momentum during the third quarter. But on the next play, Azevedo’s pass over the middle to a streaking Calton was broken up by Futch. The Cougars’ wing-T attack didn’t register another threat.
“We knew who they were going to give the ball to. He (Futch) is a stud,” Escalon coach Mark Loureiro said. “He makes all of them better. He showed it tonight.”
Hughson fans, anticipating a breakthrough win, filled the visitors’ bleachers at Engel Field. Their roar was heard as Sean Bledsoe’s interception ended Escalon’s final series.
We told them before the game, ‘This is your moment, your destiny. What are you going to do with it?’ They had the capabilities to start their own tradition. Why rely on the past?
Hughson coach Reyn Franca
“Our goal is to get 3.35 yards per play. You need only four plays to get 10 yards,” Cuevas said. “Our team is on the same page. We just want to see what we can do.”
Hughson’s win only starts what is expected to be a tight TVL race. There’s a lot of work left for the Huskies, starting with their 15 penalties for 110 yards that kept Escalon within reach.
“They (Escalon) were the first on our list,” senior guard Adrian Rivera said. “It gets us one step ahead and motivation to go through.”
But it meant more.
“Look at all these little kids running around the field,” Franca said. “None of them had ever seen Hughson beat Escalon.”
Until Friday night.