Small-town football in Northern California is certainly alive and well. The Calaveras Redskins are a perennial D-IV playoff team in the Sac-Joaquin Section. They are by no means at the top of the heap. Argonaut High is the power in the Mother Load League.
This is the same league that produced all-everything Fresno State linebacker Aaron Judge and little LeGrand went to the state championships last year. Escalon has won a state title. Modesto Christian, quarterbacked by Fresno State wide out Isaiah Burse, took a state title three years ago.
Sac-Joaquin Sierra foothill schools contain powerhouse programs such as Oak Ridge, Oakdale and Placer.
I know for most it would be tough to find many positives out of the Badger's 54-20 loss last week to Calaveras High, but one can always find a positive out of a negative. Coach Lincoln is that guy.
"It was a privilege to play at Calaveras. They had great facilities and solid fan support. Fans saw what a successful program can look like. I look forward to playing Calaveras next year. We will see where we are at." Lincoln has a similar, long-term vision for YHS.
It will just take time. "We aren't the same program that we were 5 or 10 years ago. There are a lot of factors. All we can do, and will do, is get better. This is a process,"Lincoln said..
Badger fans I spoke to at San Andreas said the youth program is what separates Calaveras from most schools. One booster stated, "A sixth grade QB in their youth program could step in and run the varsity offense at Calaveras." That is something you hear at Clovis as well. A strong youth feeder program culminates in a successful high school product. This is what the current Badger staff understands and is trying to implement.
Numbers are a key to success in any sport. YHS fielded only 18 for the Calaveras game. Up the road in Jackson, Argonaut High won a game against Galt via a forfeit. Galt was only able to field a team of 14. Galt coaches and administrators felt this was an unsafe number.
Like YHS, Galt is losing students to other area high schools.
Cross country head coach Ellen Peterson says it best: "Parents in the Oakhurst area have more educational options for their high school students than ever before. Yes, there is Minarets, but more and more students are being home schooled and Glacier is also growing."
E for effort for Badger players. Like last year, most Badger players never left the field,playing offense and defense.
"A lot of guys played hurt and didn't complain," said Lincoln.