One of the best running backs to play football at Yosemite High School, JD Burnett, is returning to his Alma mater as the new varsity football head coach.
“We are going to rebuild this program from the ground up, and uniting the youth program is a priority,” Burnett said.
Although he has been coaching in the Valley, Burnett, a 1996 YHS graduate, and his family have always lived in Coarsegold.
“I have lived in this area most of my life, and I plan on staying here the remainder of my life,” Burnett said. “Yosemite High School is my community. I am still close friends with many of the players I played with at YHS, most of whom still live up here. It means the world to me that I have the opportunity to coach here and rebuild this program to what it once was. Every career decision I have made has revolved around being able to raise my children in this community.”
“We are extremely excited to have JD come home to YHS and Badger football,” said YHS Principal Randy Seals. “He brings a record of success in building competitive teams by emphasizing realistic goal-setting, character, and life skills through football. We are fortunate to have JD choose to come home to lead our efforts to build Badger football back into being a force with which to be reckoned in the Central Section and North Sequoia League.”
Burnett has been the varsity coach at Kerman the past two seasons, compiling a 15-10 record. The team was 7-24 (including a 0-10 season) the three previous years before he took over the program. Prior to Kerman, he was an assistant coach at Hoover (2002-2003), Yosemite (2003), and Minarets (2010 and 2012).
His first head coaching job was at Frazier Mountain High School in Lebec, where he coached for three seasons (2007 - 2009), leading the program to its best season in the school’s history compiling a 9-1 record in his final year. He also coached at Sierra High for three seasons before going to Kerman.
“JD will bring his own personal history and reputation with regard to Badger football and its tradition of excellence,” Seals said. “And his return also illustrates the notion that ‘once a Badger, always a Badger.’ In the end, JD bleeds Badger Blue and it led him back to YHS. We’re thrilled to have him rejoin the Badger family.”
Burnett has a clear vision of the future of Yosemite High football.
“I have created a detailed plan that outlines the next three to five years at YHS,” Burnett told the Star while standing on Raupp field at Badger Stadium. “This plan focuses on building a year-round program that includes strength and conditioning, grade accountability, community involvement, and a strong emphasis on rebuilding our youth football. Playing football for YHS will be about building character, commitment, pride, and mental toughness. These are lifelong lessons every young man can benefit from ... and I will actively encourage athletes to participate in the program by modeling these traits and by building positive relationships with each and every player,” Burnett said.
Burnett said he feels district administrators have a high level of commitment to the football program.
“An example of that is the district reinstating a PE class to provide football players the opportunity to be in our strength and conditions program,” Burnett said. “I think it is extremely important that the district is behind doing this right.”
Burnett, an all-league running back and defensive lineman for the Badgers under Coach Aaron Eames, called his former high school coach his mentor.
“Coach Eames is a friend and has been a mentor to me my entire coaching career,” Burnett said. “It is in an honor to come back to my community and work with his kids. While coaching and doing my student teaching with Coach Eames, I learned how to run a competitive and championship-level program. I have taken this program structure with me to every program I have been involved with.”
His wife Jody, also a Yosemite High graduate, is a sixth grade teacher at Coarsegold Elementary School. The Burnetts have two daughter’s - Gwen, 11, and Reese, 8.
Burnett said he has worked hard to turn the Kerman program around, and the Lions are set for another successful season.
“I wasn’t really looking for a new job, however, I was approached by several community members to apply for the position - most notably my wife and close friends with young sons who play football,” Burnett said. “I applied because I care about the kids in this community. Watching Yosemite fall to a 15-20 player team these last few years really tugs at the heart strings, especially when inside, you know you can do something about it.”
Burnett said he has a tremendous amount of pride in the community.
“The dwindling enrollment has a tremendous negative impact on the rest of the families that are left behind. Even during the four years I worked for Chawanakee Unified, my children still attended school in the Yosemite Unified School District,” Burnett said. “I want to be a part of coming together as a community, as opposed to running off to greener pastures, as many have chosen to do.”
Burnett has plans of setting a fire under not only Yosemite High students and athletes, but businesses in town.
“Students, parents, teachers and the community - be prepared to support this football program,” Burnett said. “In order to be successful, everyone must be focused and committed to the same goal. Our goal is not only to win football games, but to teach responsibility, and to learn what it means to commit and achieve our goals. I’m going to try and get all businesses in the community to wear shirts with a “Y” on the front and “This is Badger Country” on the back, during high school and youth games.”
Part of that commitment includes a year-round strength and conditioning program - the core of every successful football program.
“Our strength and conditioning program is modeled from many successful high school and collegiate programs, and I have personally seen them completely turn programs around,” Burnett said. “I expect every player to be committed to the program, and be even more committed to their schoolwork.”
Burnnet received his Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from California State University, Fresno, in 2002, and his Masters in Administration Leadership from Fresno Pacific University in 2012.
Burnett is the seventh varsity football coach at YHS, following Eric Hanson, Stu Roper, Steve Raupp, Matt Mohulski, Aaron Eames, and Kent Lincoln. The school celebrates it’s 40th birthday next school year.
Burnett will name his assistant coaches in the near future.
Parent meeting April 7
Burnett will hold a parent meeting tonight (Thursday) at 6 p.m., in the YHS Library. Spring practice starts May 11, and the team will participate in the May 22 Hume Lake Football Cam. The team will also travel to a camp at Mission Prep High School on the Central Coast, that will include a lineman competition and passing tournament. Summer practice gets underway June 15.
Oetinger named new YHS AD
Rusty Oetinger, the successful 15-year golf coach at Yosemite High School, has been named the school’s new athletic director, effective July 1.
Oetinger, who teachers algebra, environmental and spatial technology and ROP small business management at YHS, will officially take over his new duties July 1, replacing Michelle Chenowith who stepped down to spend more time in the classroom and to focus her athletic attention on the Badger volleyball program after serving as AD for three years.
Oetinger’s experience includes coaching multiple sports including club volleyball and soccer, and girls basketball during his tenure at Oak Creek Intermediate. But he’s best known as a golf coach.
Since beginning as the Yosemite High golf coach in 2002, Oetinger has produced 10 girls league titles, two Central Section girls runner up plaques, one girls Central Section Championship, five boys league championships, and one boys Central Section Championship. The Fresno Bee named Oetinger the girls Central Section Golf Coach of the Year this past season.
As a First Tee golf instructor and acting national coach trainer with the First Tee International, Oetinger hopes to model the YHS athletic program much like that of first tee - a nation wide organization focused on the development of character, instilling life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.
As well as being a Coach Trainer for The First Tee, I am proud to say that I am now a Registered Athletic Administrator and member of the California State Athletic Directors Association and National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.
“My goals for this upcoming year are to learn the job of being an athletic director,” Oetinger said. “As for the programs on campus, I am going to model our program after the The First Tee. The basic philosophy of The First Tee is to promote positive youth development through the game of golf. We at Yosemite are going develop positive youth development through sports. Finally, we are going to focus on creating a positive and welcoming environment for the schools that come to compete against our teams,” Oetinger said.
Overall Oetinger said he is looking forward to getting started and developing a working relationship with all the Yosemite coaches as well as the administration.
“I am really looking forward to working closely with our new football coach JD Burnett,” Oetinger said. “He and I have similar philosophies that will meld well together. He and I both believe in keeping high standards, while developing not only athletes but good quality people that represent not only Yosemite High School, but our surrounding communities.”