Kent Lincoln kicked-off his inaugural season as head coach of Yosemite High School's varsity football team with a retreat at Camp Pacifica in Nipinnawasee last weekend.
Lincoln was named the new varsity head coach after Aaron Eames retired from his position at the end of last season after 16 years as head coach.
Lincoln was a Badger varsity assistant for 15 years, sharing offensive and defensive coordinator duties for most of his tenure, prior to taking the head coaching job. He also served as JV head coach for five years and during the 2009-2010 season, he led the JV team to a league championship and perfect 10-0 season.
Pat Lynch is entering his fifth season as JV head coach after being an assistant for 17 years. He will also coach varsity linebackers and quarterbacks. Lynch will be assisted by Larry Archer.
All coaches this year will have duties with both the varsity and JV teams.
Assisting Lincoln will be line coach Brian Johnson, cornerback coach Erik Peterson, and defensive coordinator Aaron "Shorty" Wilkins.
Wilkins graduated from Yosemite in 2006 after being named first team all-league on offense and defense by North Sequoia League coaches. He was the Fresno Bee's Central Section utility Player of the Year and went on to play two years at Reedley College and a season at the University of California, San Diego. He will coach the defense backs and running backs on both the varsity and JV teams.
"Aaron is wise beyond his years as a mentor," Lincoln said. "He is an energetic leader for our young men and an absolute blessing for YHS."
Off the field, coaches will serve additional roles for the program. Lynch will oversee the leadership and character program, Johnson academics and Peterson will be the program's community liaison.
Matt Haynes will serve as the team trainer, equipment manager and utility coach this season and Jason Rhymer is the team's motivational coach.
Instead of footballs, the first thing the players touched last Saturday at Camp Pacifica were weedeaters, rakes and shovels. About 35 varsity and JV players, coaches and a number of parents spent the first four hours of the retreat completing a clean-up of the Lions International camp for hearing impaired children.
The group cut brush, weed whacked more than two acres and cleared off a half foot of leaves and fallen tree branches from the camp's tennis court and camp fire pavilion.
After lunch the team hit the camp's baseball field and tennis court for strength and conditioning drills including work on a blocking sled, a tug of war and the strenuous flipping of a 150-pound truck tire over a 30-yard course for lineman.
Quarterbacks and receivers worked against linebackers and defense backs in a non-contact passing scrimmage.
Then it was off to a well deserved trip to the camp's swimming pool to cool off and witness the entertaining lineman's belly flop contest, won by sophomore Diamond McNally.
After a barbecue dinner prepared by Jimmie Lee, YHS alumni and youth football coach Mike Hansen-Sedor and Lori Blate, the group gathered around the campfire for a discussion of team goals and character development.
Guest speaker Sunday morning was former Detroit Lions, Cal Bears and Clovis High linebacker Zack Follett. A member of the Central California Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Follett spoke to the players about his life's journey and how to overcome challenges. He proudly explained to the players how he earned the nickname "pain train" by his teammates while with the Lions.
Lincoln, who also coaches wrestling, is anticipating about 35 players on his varsity team this season, double the number that suited up in Badger blue and white last year.
About 35 freshman are expected to play on the JV team including Jason Lee, Garrett White, Jeremy Miller, Brian Woolsey, DeAngelo Coffee and Josh Hansen-Sedor. Those freshman were members of a team that lost only three games in route to four consecutive youth football Central Valley Super Bowl championships.
Lincoln said the weekend at Camp Pacifica provided an opportunity for coaches to evaluate the team's strengths and weaknesses and to build team fellowship, leadership and character development.
"The retreat also provided a great opportunity for our football program to give back to the community by working hard to clean-up Camp Pacifica," Lincoln said. "Everyone felt good about getting the grounds ready for the campers who will be arriving soon. Our players understood their work was not only immediately beneficial to the camp, but they were continuing the work of previous generations who built the camp many years ago."
Badgers moved to Division IV
Although the Badgers will still play in the NSL, the team has been moved from Division III to Division IV for playoffs. The Central Section CIF realignment committee made the move after Yosemite's Athletic Director Tammy Thacker appealed the committee's original Division III placement.
The appeal was based on the school's declining enrollment, expected to be about 750 in the fall. Division III schools, on average, have enrollments of 1,000 to 1,500 according to Lincoln.
Players return to the practice field tonight for the summer crossfit training and football skills program being held 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.