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Escalante will be tested by 2019 schedule

Escalante did not finish the way it wanted to last season, but the team is looking forward to this season with renewed optimism. (Courtesy of Escalante Football)

Escalante coach Dusty Giles recently displayed some moves that would make even former NFL great Barry Sanders envious.

Giles’ moves, however, came off the field, in his office, and with a telephone.

When District 1/5-2A imploded this summer and suddenly shrank from six teams to two, including Mission Achievement and Success charter school dropping out just weeks before the season was to start, the coach had to do a quick two-step.

The changes mean the Oct. 18 game at Newcomb – now the only other district team – will determine the district championship.

And it also meant that Giles had to deftly negotiate with other schools to fill out a full schedule.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, but the schedule worked out. I moved some things around,” he said. “We added Alamosa (Colo.), they took the place of one of the district opponents.”

In addition to Alamosa, the Lobos added always-tough 3A school Socorro, as well as Estancia, 3A runner-up Bloomfield and Navajo Prep.

“I look at it as as good a schedule as we’ve had,” Giles said. “We’re definitely going to be tested before the playoffs.”

This should be a Lobos unit that can stand up to that test.

“I think we have a real good squad,” the coach said. “We were really young last year and all those young guys grew up. We’re hoping that experience from last year was enough to put us on the right path for this season.”

It’s starts up front where Escalante has several returning starters that Giles is anticipating will control both sides of the line of scrimmage.

“We have a bunch of juniors in there and almost of them have been starters,” he said. “We’re expecting that unit to really be a big part of the offense. I don’t care what you do with the ball on the offensive side; throw, run, whatever, it all goes through the offensive line. Any time that you have a good offensive line, you have a pretty good shot of having a good offense.”

Beefy junior lineman Andres Salazar (6 feet, 3 inches, 275 pounds) and senior center Cory Gallegos (6-0, 200) will be the building blocks for the squad.

“We’re definitely excited,” Giles said. “We’re still pretty heavily run-oriented, so that means more to us than it does others. (Gallegos) is definitely going to anchor that thing for us. Salazar, for us, he’s a giant. He put in some work in the off-season, mainly playing basketball. He’s in a spot where he can move and he’s going to be counted on. We do have a little bit of beef on our line. We’re not really used to that, so it’s going to be interesting.”

Giles’ son, junior Brendon Giles (5-11, 160), is taking over as quarterback after two years as a wide out and cornerback.

“He’s grown up in a locker room,” coach Giles said. “He’s been at my practices as head coach since 2006. He’s been around. He knows what I expect and what we need to do to win. I’m really excited about that. He’s turned into a pretty solid leader. He’s done a lot of work on his own and getting kids together. He makes sure to do everything you want from a quarterback position.”

Junior Dante Salazar (5-9, 180) will take over at running back after gaining 482 yards a year ago.

“A solid all-round player,” Giles said. ‘He’s a nice blend with some size and speed.”

And the coach expects junior Dylan Deyapp (5-9, 140) to be a big-play receiver from the slot.

“Defensively, we’re still going to be in the 4-3,” Giles said. “We’ve got quite a few big guys returning there in the secondary. In fact, in that front seven, we’ve also got a few returning starters. It’s always tough when you’re young, but it’s always good the next year when those kids grow up. We weren’t a bad team last year. We still got to the playoffs and won a game. This year, we should be a lot better.”

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