In an effort to put the YHS football program back on track, the Yosemite High Badgers football team began off-season workouts last week with a three-team passing scrimmage between the Caruthers Blue Raiders and the Minarets Mustangs.
Over the past two years the Badgers have been less than fortunate on the football field and have won only one game in Coach Kent Lincoln's first two seasons.
In order to change the culture and prepare for the challenges of the upcoming season, Lincoln has his squad starting early this year with scrimmages and fundraising events in hopes of developing team unity and putting the Badgers in a more developed position to compete against some of the North Sequoia League's most talented teams.
The team's pre-season workouts began in astute fashion when roughly 20 new and returning Badgers gathered at Raupp Field to begin working on the integral parts of the game such as conditioning and playbook memorization.
Assistant Coach Erik Peterson stressed the importance of conditioning and learning basic techniques as a team, noting the difficulty of competing when teammates are not on the same page.
Returning to the team for his third year at quarterback will be juniorJoey Woolsey who showed his competitive nature during a very hot and fast-paced off-season workout.
When referencing leadership, Peterson says the team will be looking to Woolsey to take charge and lead the Badgers to their first winning season under coach Lincoln.
"We are looking for Woolsey to step up and lead this team. He is one of our more talented athletes and the quarterback is a traditional leadership position," Peterson said.
After losing several lineman to graduation, Peterson hopes that returning offensive lineman Jonathan Zohes will be able to help show younger players what it takes to be successful when battling in the trenches.
"We lost a few lineman last year but we have returning Jonathan Zohes and he will be a big contributor at the offensive line position," Peterson said.
Following multiple losing seasons and a reduction in enrollment, the Badgers have been moved down from D-IV to D-V this season. This does little to change the tough North Sequoia League schedule, and only affects the team in section play-offs, where Yosemite would face smaller schools.
Yosemite will scrimmage Mariposa Aug. 28 and then will look to head full force into season play as the season officially begins a week later on Sept. 5.
Prior to the season beginning in September the Badgers will host a series of fundraiser events including the annual Blast for Badgers Skeet Shoot June 28, which raised more than $6,500 last year. Details: Tina, (559) 683-3669.
Peterson, who helps with Yosemite Youth Football, said the coaches are trying to change the culture at Yosemite and want to combine more of the youth football and high school team events as a way to fuse the programs.
"We've really tried to unify the programs between the youth leagues and the high school teams," Peterson said. "We have more than 30 freshman coming out to the JV program and that is more than we have had in the past four years. We are really excited about the upcoming years at YHS."
Official practice for the Badgers begins on Aug. 4, and the annual Booster kick-off dinner will be held Aug. 22.
The Badgers will open their season on Friday, Sept. 5 as they travel to Selma to take on the Bears. The Bears finished last year 4-6 overall, and 0-4 in Central Sequoia League play.