It was a special home football opener for the 2012 Yosemite High School Badgers (0-4) last Friday night on a gorgeous fall evening. The special dedication for newly christened Steve Raupp Field had fans and players upbeat.
The Badgers played their best game of the season, although the team was gradually worn down by the Mendota Aztecs (4-0) and their Central Valley leading rusher Edgar Segura, losing 31-7.
It was the Aztecs, last year's Division VI Central Section champions, 16th straight win.
In one of the great performances ever seen at Badger Stadium, Segura, a junior, rushed for 254 yards on 28 carries, scored five touchdowns, kicked an extra point and recovered a fumble.
The game however was no blowout. YHS was down just 12-7 at halftime and Mendota only put things out of reach late in the third quarter with 19 unanswered points after halftime.
Yosemite's head coach Kent Lincoln said although the Badgers did a better job managing turnovers, mistakes hurt them.
"This was a tough game," Lincoln said. "We need to stay focused after making mistakes which is tough for a young team. We were obviously happy to be close at half but we had two critical turnovers in the third quarter that opened the flood gates for Mendota."
The Badgers, suiting up 20 players, played a great first half. The Badger defense did a stellar job, especially the defensive line and linebackers. Mendota was stopped on their first possession despite great runs by Segura. Mendota put the first 6 points on the board on a 6-play, 68 yard drive, all on the ground. On a fourth and five during the drive, Segura took a handoff and sprinted left for a 24-yard score. The 2-point conversion failed as did every Aztec attempted 2-point conversion on the night.
The Badgers got great field position at their own 45 on a solid kick-off return from Drew Lassos, although YHS failed to convert on a fourth and four and Mendota took over at midfield.
The Aztecs would take advantage putting together a 7-play, 50 yard scoring drive. Segura got his second touchdown on a 9-yard scamper into the end zone, giving the Aztecs a 12-0 lead with 10:30 left before halftime.
After the kick-off, Yosemite put together a decent drive with some effective running by freshman Jason Lee but the drive stalled. Punter Josia Madison had a 50-yard punt pinning the Aztecs on their own three yard line, but Segura soon reeled off a 48-yard run to midfield.
Then the unusual happened -- A hike over the head of Mendota QB Estevan Trejo was alertly picked up by Badger lineman David Temple who was heading for the end zone when out of nowhere Segura comes up from behind and takes the ball away from Temple. It ended up being a 40-yard loss for Mendota.
Yosemite's defensive line put pressure on Torres and he was picked off by defensive back Stewart Carlson. The Badgers were at the Mendota 35 with 1:37 left in the half. It was a break the Badgers needed and they would take advantage. Badger QB Joey Woolsey hit Dillon Moran for a 15-yard strike and then on fourth and 10 with time running out, Woolsey rolled right and hit receiver Luke Blate deep in the back of the end zone for the TD. Blate kicked the point after and the Badgers were back in the game, down only 12-7.
On the last play of the half, Segura took a handoff, broke left and sprinted toward the end zone but a saving tackle by defensive back Stewart Carlson prevented a TD. Despite a huge advantage in time of possession and yards from scrimmage, the Aztecs held to a slim 12-7 lead at the half. Segura had 188 yards in the half, triple the output of the Badger offense.
Mistakes and Segura eventually wore down YHS in the second half. On the second play of their first second-half drive, a bad center/QB exchange cost the Badgers a possession. The defense stiffened as line backer Bobby McGee stepped in front of a Trejo pass for an interception but the Badgers went three and out on the ensuing possession.
A 28-yard punt by Madison put the Aztecs on the Badger 32. Then it was Segura, breaking five tackles and scoring from 16-yards out. He ran ran hard all night and it usually took more than one defender to stop the leading rusher in the Valley. The junior kept his legs moving, ran low to the ground and had excellent field vision.
On the next YHS possession a 30-yard pass play to Blate was negated by a holding penalty. When Madison dropped back to punt, he could not field the hike from center and Mendota had the ball at the Badger two. Segura scored on the next play.
By the end of the third quarter, it was 24-7 Mendota. Segura scored the final touchdown of the game on a 9-yard run in the fourth quarter. It was part of a 19-0 Aztec post-halftime run to seal the 31-7 victory. The Badger JV team lost 56-0.
The Aztecs had 480 total yards: 400 yards rushing and 80 passing. The Badgers finished with just 86 yards of total offense. Woolsey was 9-27 for 68 yards and a TD for Yosemite.
Jason Lee had 34 yards on 12 carries. Madison had two rushes for minus 20 yards. Blate had 5 catches for 38 yards and a TD. Blate has scored a TD in three of four games this year. Moran had two receptions for 24 yards. Madison had one catch for 11 yards.
Exeter visits Oakhurst
The Badgers face the high powered Exeter Monarchs (2-3) at Badger Stadium Friday at 7 p.m.
The Monarchs play in the Central Sequoia League. They have played a brutal non-conference schedule against powers that include Tehachapi and Mission Oak. The Monarchs are averaging 32 points and nearly 400 yards a game.
They are led by sophomore running back Alex Cardoza who has rushed for 507 yards on 74 carries for a 6.8 average. Cardoza is ranked No. 12 in rushing yards by MaxPreps.com. Senior QB Cody Tilly is is 39 of 72 for 487 yards and 3 TD's and is ranked 17th in passing yardage in the Central Section by MaxPreps. The Monarchs are led by head coach Ben White.
Other North Sequoia League scores
Sierra (4-0) 31, Parlier 27. Friday Sierra at Mendota
Liberty (4-0) 13, Corcoran 10. Friday Liberty hosts Caruthers
Chowchilla (2-2) 56, Dos Palos 14. Friday at Chowchilla at Corcoran
Kingsburg 28, Kerman (1-3) 10. Friday Kerman at Dos Palos
Hoover 34, Washington Union (0-4) 21. Friday Union at Ridgeview (Bakersfield)