The Yosemite Badger Youth Football program opened its 34th season hosting three teams from the East Division of the Tri-County Youth League for the annual "Carnival" scrimmage last Saturday.
Visiting Yosemite High School's Badger Stadium were Mighty Might, Pee Wee, Junior and Senior teams from Sierra, Fresno's San Joaquin Memorial and Easton's Washington Union.
Alan Shackelford has been coaching in the youth program for 12 years and is an assistant for this year's Senior team while serving as the YBYF president.
"The youth program gives kids the opportunity to play the great game of football," Shackelford said.
Shackelford said the program's goal is to develop young players and get them prepared to play at the high school level.
"At the Mighty Mights level, we are teaching youngsters the fundamentals of the game including the correct and safe way to tackle and block," Shackelford. "By the time the players are on the Senior team, they know the fundamentals and the high school's offense and defense systems."
Win or lose, Shackelford said all the kids play their hearts out. "You can't ask for anything more than that."
Yosemite High varsity head coach Kent Lincoln and his staff are strong supporters of the program.
"By teaching sound, fundamental football, our youth program builds the foundation for a positive and successful high school experience for these young players," Lincoln said.
Head coaches for the Senior, Junior, Pee Wee and Mighty Might teams are Clyde Derickson, Eric Peterson, Aaron Pelz and Mike Hansen-Sedor respectively.
Yosemite High School players who are assisting the program this year include Chris Kanaley, Tim Jones, Cody Elam, Mason Gaynor and Josh Hansen-Sedor.
Shackelford said the majority of Yosemite High School players went through the youth program including stand-outs Aaron Wilkins, John Blea, Sean Long, Justin Peek, Josh Nunes, Craig Smith, Robert Rainey, Daniel Reagan and Jackson Glines, to name a few.
Yosemite is part of the East Division of the Tri-County League along with Union, Sierra, Memorial, Kingsburg, Chowchilla, Liberty and Kerman. West Division teams are Los Banos, Dos Palos, Avinal, Tranquillity, Mendota, Firebaugh, Huron and Coalinga. All the youth teams are feeder teams to their local high school.
All four teams open the season at Saturday, Sept. 1 against Dos Palos. Mighty Mights noon; Pee Wees 2 p.m.; Juniors 4 p.m; Seniors 6 p.m.