Sonora Wildcats football coaches and players want tough opponents early in their non-league season each year, to prepare for Mother Lode League play that begins in October. This week they get their wish again when they travel to another one of the Central Valley’s powerhouse programs, Escalon High School.

Escalon is 2-0 so far in their 2019 season, with a home win 58-0 over Union Mine of El Dorado on Aug. 23, and a 24-7 road win over Calaveras on Aug. 30 in San Andreas. The Cougars count eight Sac-Joaquin section championships from 2010 back to 1993, and three state championships, in 2010, 1996, and 1993.

Friday night’s Sonora-Escalon game starts at 7 p.m. in Escalon.

The Wildcats will want to bring their best efforts on offense and defense for all four quarters, because Escalon scored 17 unanswered points in the second half last week when they beat Calaveras.

Escalon players to watch Friday night will likely include senior running back Kaden Christensen, who had nine carries for 117 yards and one touchdown against Calaveras, and junior quarterback Ty Harris, who completed nine passes out of 17 attempts for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Escalon has outscored opponents 82-7 so far this year.

Sonora’s varsity football team is now 0-2 for the 2019 season, with last week’s 55-14 loss to Ripon High School in Ripon, and the 41-7 home loss Aug. 23 to Oakdale.

The Wildcats are bringing the effort at times, they just need to practice harder and reduce the mistakes, said Sonora junior running back Justin Morgan, who scored twice last week against Ripon, on a long run and a kickoff return.

“We reverse these mistakes and we win these games,” Morgan said after the defeat to Ripon.

Sonora senior running back Aiden Kostlivy agreed, saying he and his teammates need to refocus on sound, fundamental football.

Bryan Craig, the Sonora head coach, concurred, saying his team needs to start playing as a team.

Escalon is about 45 miles southwest of Sonora in San Joaquin County. Escalon High School is at 1528 Yosemite Ave. in Escalon.

Contact Guy McCarthy at or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.