SALIDA -- The torn No. 1 jersey usually worn by Isaiah Burse was out of action Friday night, having picked up a rip in last week's victory over Colfax.
And Burse wasn't about to play the biggest game (so far) of his football career looking anything less than sharp, so the torn jersey was replaced by No. 6.
The story about the number change goes no deeper than that. It wasn't about a tribute to a fallen teammate, it was about Burse looking good.
But it could have been seen as a prediction, since Burse and his Modesto Christian teammates went out and shocked Escalon by six touchdowns, advancing to the third round of Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4B playoffs with a 49-7 victory.
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And Burse filled the replacement jersey well, carrying the ball 16 times for 235 yards and four scores, adding 97 yards and a touchdown passing, and intercepting a pass as the Crusaders amazingly breezed to the victory in what was expected to be a close game.
"I was a lot more nervous this week than the last time we played Escalon because Mark (Loureiro) is over there and he has 200 and some wins and you know he's going to come up with something to give us problems while we're trying to do the same," said MC coach Mike Parsons. "I think we gave them some issues on both sides of the ball."
That they did, outgaining the Cougars 469-165 and intercepting three passes.
"We knew they throw the ball about twice a game, so if we could stop the run and force the pass we could get a couple interceptions," Burse said. "Everyone's been saying that Escalon had the best defense in the area, but we proved that wrong tonight. I'm just happy for my team."
Escalon (10-2) never was a factor in the game, which started in a steady rain and finished in a cold northern breeze. Just three weeks ago on this same field, Escalon could point to three or four mistakes that resulted in a 21-16 loss to Modesto Christian.
"We all thought this one would be a lot closer," Loureiro said. "When we played the first game we hurt ourselves with mistakes, but you look back and you see that MC also made some mistakes in that game that hurt them, too. It wasn't going to matter what we did tonight because they beat us at every position. The better team went out and won this game convincingly tonight."
After MC fumbled on its first possession, costing itself field position, it regained possession at its 5 after a punt. Seven plays later, Keaton Engel skirted left end for a 47-yard score, and freshman kicker Alec Pearson booted the wet ball through for the first of his seven successful conversion kicks.
From there, the game got out of hand in a hurry as MC was having its way on both sides of the ball. Kevin Roya grabbed a 25-yard scoring pass from Burse for a 14-0 first quarter lead, and the Crusaders doubled the lead by halftime on runs covering 24 yards by David Sjelin and 91 yards by Burse.
Escalon scored first in the second half on a 14-yard run by Spencer Franceschetti, but Burse took care of the rest, embarking on scoring sprints covering 5, 48 and 47 yards to finish the rout.
If the two victories over Escalon were mid-term tests for the Crusaders, then the final exam comes next Friday when Modesto Christian gets to host Central Catholic to decide the B side of the Division 4 bracket.
"Central is the big gorilla," Parsons said. "When I interviewed for this job I said I wanted to beat Central Catholic. Here we are, six years later, and we still haven't beat them. This will be our best chance since I've been here. These kids our confident."
Not only confident, but with a newly mended No. 1 jersey on his back, Burse promises to be looking good.