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Bruins Fall To Escalon In Football Finale
With home-field advantage in the playoffs on the line, Escalon High's varsity football team delivered a 55-20 victory over host Riverbank on Nov. 2 to end the Bruins' season and propel the Cougars into the first round of the postseason.

Escalon led by two scores after a period, and jumped to an insurmountable lead after a 27-point flurry in the second quarter. Riverbank would rally to a 20-14 second-half stanza, but couldn't erase the early deficit from a team seeded eighth among 16 teams in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs.

Escalon is one of five TVL teams to make the playoffs. The conference could have sent six programs to extra contests, but Orestimba fell to Modesto Christian on Friday to become one of the few SJS teams with five wins and no playoff qualification. Riverbank fell to 0-6 in the TVL and finished the year at 2-8 after early wins over Denair (2-8) and Delhi (4-6).

"I am really going to miss this group of seniors," Riverbank coach James Oliver said on Monday. "They have a lot of heart, desire to play and passion."

The Bruins gave up just under 500 yards of offense to Escalon and surrendered 337 yards on the ground to nine different Cougar ball carriers. Escalon quarterback Phillip Kimble also completed all five of his passes for 145 yards. Riverbank rallied behind 142 passing yards from Angel Torres (8 for 21), who tossed a pair of touchdowns with three interceptions. He hit Joaquin Felix (three catches, 42 yards) and Freddie Capas (two catches, 37 yards) on a pair of scores and also found Christian Torres open for a 42-yard toss. Chad Oliver ran for a touchdown and led Riverbank with 13 carries (41 yards). Torres ran nine times for 78 yards while Cecil Arias (16-yard catch) had four carries for 30 yards.

Luis Solorio led the Riverbank defense with eight solo tackles.

"We actually played physical with Escalon, but they were bigger and we were a bit out-manned," Oliver said. "We didn't quit though, and ended up coming back to score 20 points in the second half."

The Bruins will soon begin a strength and conditioning program to prepare for a gauntlet of tough opponents in 2013. This year's D-IV bracket is one of the strongest in any division in section history (12 teams are 8-2 or better), setting the bar for high small-school postseason hopefuls in the years to come.

"I want to thank our administration for supporting us a lot and doing a great job with the kids," Oliver said. "The parents also deserve thanks for their support."

Junior Varsity

The Riverbank JV team had their hands full with the Escalon squad on Friday night, falling in a 47-6 decision. Riverbank's lone score came on a 63-yard run in the second quarter, but the visiting Escalon team had more manpower and too many weapons for the Riverbank crew to contain.