The Yosemite High School Badgers (1-4, 0-1) opened their 2013 North Sequoia League season playing perhaps the best team in the league the defending CIF Central Section D-V champion Liberty Hawks (6-0, 1-0) of Madera Ranchos. The Hawks, on an 11-game win streak dating back to last season, defeated the out-manned Badgers 40-7.
The score did not tell the whole story. Yosemite moved the ball on Liberty, but three trips inside the Hawks 10 produced no points. Badger junior quarterback Joey Woolsey threw for over 150 yards, but also had five interceptions.
The Badger defense gave a great effort but as the game wore on fatigue set in. Yosemite suited up 17 players to Liberty's 45. The Badgers played the entire game with just five lineman, playing both ways. After an injury to lineman Brian Gudoy, Leo Meza switched jerseys (No. 22 to No. 61) and played the rest of the game as a two-way lineman.
The Hawks utilized seven different running backs.
"We moved the ball well, but didn't take advantage of our opportunities," head coach Kent Lincoln said. "Overall, I thought we played well. Any mistakes against a team like that will hurt you. We still have to really improve in our turnovers."
The Hawks came out soaring. Liberty scored on their first possession. It was an eight-play, 46-yard drive culminating in a Wade Wallace touchdown around right end. The point after failed and Liberty was up 6-0.
On Yosemite's second possession, Woolsey hit Cody Elam for a 58-yard completion. The Badgers were deep in Liberty territory. Two plays later the Badgers produced the first of many turnovers as wide receiver Brandon O'Brien had the ball ripped out of his hands at the Liberty seven-yard line. Liberty recovered at the 10.
The Yosemite defense responded by stopping the Hawks on their next possession. Woolsey engineered another stellar drive. Woolsey hit Elam for a 25-yard gain. Woolsey then connected with Jason Lee on two more passes. YHS was now on the Liberty eight yard line, but Woolsey misfired throwing an interception in the end zone.
The Badger defense again stepped up, by quickly forcing a Hawk fumble by leading rusher Richie Brandt at the Liberty 32.
Woolsey led another Badger drive deep into Hawk territory, this time to the Liberty nine yard line. But once again, the Badgers came up empty handed.
Liberty would take advantage scoring on their next possession. The drive was keyed on a 52-yard run by Logan Pierce. Hawk quarterback Zach Richey connected again with Pierce, this time for a 14-yard touchdown. What could have been a 21-6 Yosemite lead, was now 14-0 Liberty with 8:53 left in second quarter.
The Badgers went to the air again, but Woolsey threw his second pick. After getting the ball at the 50, Liberty went to the ground game pounding the ball inside. Brandt made up for his previous fumble with a score and the bout was on.
Liberty would score one more time before half after another Woolsey pick. Liberty again went to the ground with Steve Clark taking it in for a 15-yard TD and Liberty went into halftime up 27-0.
In the third quarter, despite two holding calls, Liberty put together an eight-play, 65-yard drive capped off with a Hawks running back barreling into the end zone. Hawk running back Brandon Hutchings scored Liberty's final touchdown.
Midway through the fourth quarter Woolsey hit Elam for a 53-yard touchdown to end the Badger scoring drought. Donovan Iverson booted the point after. Elam had his best game of the season with 178 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Woolsey went over a 1,000 yards passing for the year, but his four interceptions gave him 14 on the season, equaling his total from last season.
The Badgers team responded with a solid effort against the best D-V team in the Valley. It was an emotional night for all the players. Earlier in the day coach Lincoln survived what could have been a horrific accident. Driving to school, Lincoln's jeep was hit and rolled on Deadwood Mountain. According to wife Jennifer, coach Lincoln crawled through the windshield to escape.
"Only the roll bar saved Kent," Jennifer said. "Kent was a little banged up but he shook it off."
Rather than miss the game, Lincoln wanted to be with his players more than anything said his wife an example of the work ethic and commitment of Lincoln and his staff to their players.
Rushing: Yosemite: Lee 11-33, Magee 1 -1. Liberty: Berges 3-7, Bevin Brandt 1-1, Richie Brandt 11-89, Steven Clark 4-48, Johnny Faccinto 3-11, Brandon Hutchings 8-56, Kendall Malone 3-13, Zach Richey 2 (-8), Wyatt Sanders 3-4, Abraham Thorne 5-60, Wade Wallace 7-120, Seth Wedemeyer 3-13.
Passing: Yosemite: Woolsey 12-42-5-202, Lee 1-1-28. Liberty: Zach Richey 9-13-1-141.
Receiving: Yosemite: Elam 7-148, Lee 4-41. Liberty: Bevin Brandt 1-20, Steven Clark 1-14, Luke Cullins 1-17, Travis Jordan 3-32, Kendall Malone 1-11, Logan Pierce 1-16, Wyatt Sanders 1-22.
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JV Badgers fall 47-12
Yosemite's JV team (2-4, 0-1) knew they would be in for a tough test against undefeated Liberty, who blitzed the Badgers 47-12.
After starting the season 2-1, the Badgers have lost the last three games, and like. Like the varsity, the small number of players on the team is a factor Liberty suited up 39 compared the Badgers 19.
As has been the case most of the season, the combination of freshman quarterback Tristan Eames and sophomore receiver Brian Woolsey were most of the offense.
Woolsey scored on a 35-yard pass from Eames. Badger running back Josh Jackson also scored on a five-yard run.
The Badgers are on the road again for the fourth straight week. This week they face the red hot Kerman Lions (5-1, 1-0) coached by JD Burnett. Last week Kerman defeated Chowchilla 35-14.
The Lions average 325 yards per game 200 rushing and 125 passing. The Lions are led by junior quarterback Evan Sagariballa who has thrown for 536 yards and five touchdowns in six games.
The Lions have four backs that have produced. Junior Andrew Flores leads the team with 390 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Kerman averages five yards a carry. The Badger defense faces another difficult challenge in the run game.
Game times: JV 5 p.m. varsity 7 p.m. at Kerman.
Oct. 11 NSL scores
Kerman (5-1, 1-0) 35, Chowchilla (2-4, 1-0) 14.
Washington Union (3-3, 1-0) 40, Sierra (3-3, 0-1) 0.
Liberty (6-0, 1-0) 40, Yosemite (1-5, 0-1) 7.