There is plenty of noise surrounding the Escalon campus about the potential for a special season.
The Cougars return 17 starters, four of which were All-District honorees in 2018.
They also bring back three running backs with over 700 rushing yards.
For running back Kaden Christensen, the senior said the team hasn’t been caught up in the talk and just want to play Escalon football.
“We lost to Hilmar in the playoffs last year and that’s mainly been our focus, bounce back,” Christensen, who had 810 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, said. “As long as I have been here, we have always been the underdog and we are going to take it week-by-week, one team at a time.”
Second-year coach Andrew Beam said the team liked what it had coming back but, like Christensen, stressed the importance of taking it one game at a time.
“We can’t get caught listening to everything else,” Beam said. “When it’s 16, 17, and 18 year-olds, that does get to them and it can get to their head. We would hate to be bitten from behind because we fell asleep for a week.”
Escalon will have five captains, the first time the school has had that many, Beam said.
Along with Christensen, senior running back Colton Panero and senior lineman David Camacho, Damien Tom, and Jacob Walden will hopefully lead the Cougars to their first CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title since 2010.
Panero had 720 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns and Escalon also returns junior Luke Anderson (740 yards, 10 touchdowns), who Beam said could have a “monster year.”
All three had nearly identical numbers and Beam said since they all play offense and defense, they use their running back committee to keep each fresh.
Christensen said the trio have all played together since third grade.
“Coach Beam does a good job balancing carries and stuff like that and at the end of the day, its not about that (individual yardage), its about winning,” Christensen said. “We are willing to sacrifice what we need to do to win and get to the top at the end.”
Another key returner is senior receiver Kaidence Trejo, who had 386 yards and six touchdowns.
2019 is the school’s 100th anniversary and the Cougars unveiled new jerseys on July 24.
“They are a new look and a new face of Escalon,” Christensen said. “Especially with all these returners, we want to leave a legacy and being able to look good. That’s just a bonus.”
Record: 9-3, 4-2 in Trans-Valley League
Players to Watch: Senior running back Kaden Christensen, senior lineman Jacob Walden, senior lineman Damien Tom
Biggest Game: Sept. 27 at Hilmar
Something special about school: Escalon High School is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
Playoff appearances last five years: 2018: Lost to Hilmar in CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI Semifinals 2017: Lost to Hilmar in Div. VI Semifinals 2016: None 2015: None 2014: Lost to Central Catholic in Div. IV Semifinals