On Thursday, Nov. 10, the Yosemite High Badgers (7-3) will travel to meet the Lindsay Cardinals (6-4, 3-2 East Sequoia League) in the first round of the D-V playoffs.
The Cardinals are the No. 7 seed in the playoffs, while the Badgers are No. 10.
Of their 10 games this season, Lindsay played against six playoff-bound teams. The cardinals won three of four, but lost their last game to Strathmore, the No. 1 seed in D-VI, 35-0.
Offensively Lindsay has scored 191 points (19 per game), but has given up 258 points on defense.
Linday’s offense is balanced with 1,252 rushing yards and 1,128 passing yards on the year. Led by freshman quarterback Ethan Natera, the team is 4-2 with him under center. Overall, Natera is 58 of 112 for 705 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions on the year.
Freshman Jonathan Hadley leads the cardinals receiving attack with 18 catches for 341 yards and four touchdowns. Junior Chris Orozco has 15 catches for 264 yards, and leads the team with six touchdown grabs.
On the ground, the Cardinals are led by senior running back Sal Rivera. Rivera leads the team with nine touchdowns and 549 yards rushing on 128 carries, at an average of 4.3 yards a carry. Junior Ethan Duran has 385 yards on 73 carries with four scores, while Hadley has 363 yards on 74 runs.
To win, the Badgers will have to control the Cardinal ground game and pressure Natera, whose style is defined by having sufficient time in the pocket. In a loss to the Sierra High Chieftains last week, and two weeks ago against Amador, the Badgers have struggled against the ground game.
On offense, senior YHS quarterback Tristan Eames comes into his first playoff game. three-year starter, Eames picked up key yards on the ground against Sierra with the absence of the team’s leading rusher Johnny Varian. The Badgers were able to rack up just over 100 yards in the Sierra game.
The Badgers will look to the air with receivers Cannon Eames and Cass Moreno to help supplement the ground attack.
Chieftains run over Badgers
It’s been a year of building rivalries for the Badgers, playing independently of leagues this season.
On Nov. 4, rival Sierra High School (5-5, 0-4 North Sequoia League) came into Badger Stadium and dominated Yosemite in the 35th annual Mountain Bowl, 41-14.
The Chieftains ran for more than 300 yards, with Shane Maldonado rushing for 284 yards and four TDs.
Sierra now holds an 18-17 edge in the Mountain Bowl.
The game was close for a time. Sierra scored first on an eight-play, 65-yard drive, finishing with a Maldonado rushing score and a missed PAT.
YHS responded, notching a 12-play, 68-yard drive with Tristan Eames running for a 14-yard touchdown to put the Badgers up 7-6.
With 19 seconds left in the first quarter, Maldonado exploded for a 67-yard touchdown run. On the ensuing kickoff, Sierra’s Chris Hand recovered an onside kick. On the next play, Chieftains quarterback Tristan Wilson connected with wideout Jordan Bonesteel for a 35-yard touchdown strike. They followed up that score with a 1-yard run by Cam Brady for another touchdown and went up 27-7.
YHS battled back before halftime. Cannon Eames took a kickoff return 35 yards to help set up an offensive drive. From there, the Badgers went 65 yards in eight plays, culminating with a 4-yard scoring run by Tristan Eames. The half finished with Sierra up 27-14; a lead they increased in the second half as YHS was unable to put more points on the board.
Cannon Eames fought to keep YHS in reach during the first half, with 106 yards on three kickoff returns, four receptions for 78 yards, and a fumble recovery. At the end of the game, he had amassed over 200 all-purpose yards, while brother Tristan had 195 yards, with 14o passing and 55 rushing.
Before the game, YHS honored its senior players Paden Bergdall, Ryan Brennen, Kevin Bulawski, Joe Campbell, Bowen Cunnings, Tristan Eames, Dalin Haas, Cass Moreno, Jacob Rounsvill, and Adam Van Zant. The seniors will leave the school, whatever happens in the payoffs, with a winning record and a playoff berth.
Other YHS seniors honored were cheerleaders Samantha Lemire and Amber Esuivei McGee and band members Brandon Healey, Jamie Hellwig, Carlos Misquez, Hannah Scott, Sonya Smith, Laney Wilkinson, Chayanne Pagan and Drum Major Audrey Misquez.
JV team beats Sierra 20-0
The Badger JV (4-6) set the tone early with a strong ground game and a stifling defense and defeated Sierra 20-0. The four wins are the most this decade. Since 2010 the JV Badgers have won only rhree games.
In his second start QB Thomas Garner directed the JV offense that made few mistakes. Garner scored on the Badgers first possession and YHS led 6-0. The Badgers stopped a Sierra drive deep into their territory.
YHS responded with another scoring drive. Garner connected on two passes to receiver Jonathan Nisar and scored on a quarterback keeper. Garner connected with Nisar on the two-point conversion and it was 14-0.
YHS scored once more on a Nic Harper 15-yard run. Harper, along with running backs Diego Combs and Ernie Jimenez made life difficult for the Sierra defense all night long. Tyson Mansfield, who was moved to wide receiver, caught two passes and was a leading tackler on defense.
For head coach Matt Pressly, the season’s ending was bittersweet.
“We have really put things together,” Pressly said. “Our offense, especially our run game and offensive line have really gelled. Despite just his second start, Thomas (Garner) did a heck of a job running this team. He also made some accurate passes. Yeah, I wish we could keep playing.”
YHS JV Stats
☆ Rushing: Nicholas Harper 15-80, Ernie Jimenez 10-66, Diego Combs 5-24, Thomas Garner 5-0, Tyson Mansfield 1-3.
☆ Passing: Thomas Garner 8-13-98.
☆ Receiving: Paul Antonis 3-39, Johnathon Nisar 3-38, Tyson Mansfield 2-21.
Varsity game stats
☆ Rushing, Yosemite: Tristan Eames 13-55, Luke Howell 14-37, Cannon Eames 1-9, Dylan DeLaCruz 2-3.
☆ Rushing, Sierra: Shane Maldonado 18-234, Cameron Brady 10-65, Chris Orange 6-12, Ian Hunter 1-3, Tristan Wilson 4-(-8).
☆ Passing, Yosemite: Tristan Eames 11-22-140.
☆ Passing, Sierra: Tristan Wilson 5-7-71-1 TD.
☆ Receiving, Yosemite: Cannon Eames 4-78, Cass Moreno 4-52, Ben Negley 1-10, Jacob Werber 1-5, Luke Howell 1-(-5).
☆ Receiving, Sierra: Jordan Bonesteel 1-35, Chris Orange 2-17, Jake Hand 1-14, Shane Maldonado 1-4.