Eight Selma running backs combined for 325 yards rushing, and quarterback Henry Ramirez Jr. threw six completions for an additional 138 yards to lead the Bears to a 47-6 win over Yosemite High Sept. 4 at Badger Stadium.
Even with the lopsided loss, there were some positives coming out of the game which could reap benefits in the future. Most of the Badgers’ players were playing at the varsity level for the first time.
Out of the 22 positions on the offense and defense, more than half were manned by sophomores, two of whom stood out - 5-foot-8, 165 pound speedster running back Jesse De La Cruz (104 yards on 17 carries - 6.1 yards pca) behind an all-underclassmen line - and 6-foot-1, 195 pound Peter Martinez, who ended the night with 15 tackles (11 solo, four assists) from his linebacker position. Yet another sophomore, safety Ty Peterson had 12 tackles (six solo, six assists).
Selma was a team featuring plenty of experience and a 50-player roster versus the 20 Badgers playing varsity football. The two top Bear offensive performers, running backs Jordan Dominguez (12 carries - 114 yards) and Joel Aranda (eight carries - 80 yards) were two-way stars last season. In addition, Selma was playing their second game of the season after losing to a good Kerman team 38-28 the week before.
Yosemite started out well after taking the opening kickoff and driving for two first downs behind runs by Junior quarterback Tristan Eames, and De La Cruz, however, a fumble near the mid-field gave the ball to Selma. Three plays later Selma’s Aranda scampered 35 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead after the PAT, just a minute and a half into the game.
On the next series the Badgers again moved the ball for a first down on an Eames run and a facemask penalty but the drive stalled and the Badgers punted. On a third down the Bear’s Dominguez broke through the middle for a 44-yard run to the 12 yards line. On the next play, Selma’s quarterback JR Ramirez ran around the left side on a keep for a 12- yard touchdown, the extra point kick failed and the Badgers were down 13-0 with about a minute left in the first quarter.
The Badger’s Cannon Eames took the kickoff return up the middle to the 35-yard line. On second down, De La Cruz busted up the middle, broke left, lost a shoe, and got caught on the 15-yard line as the first quarter ended.
The Badgers moved 10 more yards for a first down but could not manage a score, missing on a 26-yard field goal attempt by Tanner Meeks.
From there, things went downhill for Yosemite as Selma scored on a 51-yard pass from Martinez to Aranda, then Aranda intercepted a third down Eames pass and, and after Selma was moved back to the 50-yard line, Martinez found Paul Moreno behind the defense for a touchdown pass and a 27-0 lead. After another Badgers rugby style punt by Meeks, Selma drove down the field on a 32-yard run by Dominguez put the ball on the Badgers 18-yard line.
Aranda caught a ball and advanced to the five yard line with 23 seconds in the half.
After moving the ball to the one yard line with four seconds left, Dominguez powered into the end zone to give the Bears a 33-0 halftime lead.
The second half was much like the first with the Badgers being overpowered by the Bears with Aranda scoring from 16 years out and then Art Cortez finding the end zone on a 13- yard carry. The Badgers finally were able to put together a sustained drive on their last series with De La Cruz, Eames and Meeks running the ball and an Eames 18-yard pass to Case Moreno.
With time about to run out, De La Cruz broke though the interior of the Bears’ defense from the eight yard line and rolled over the last Bear, landing in the end zone and getting Yosemite’s first touchdown of the season. The PAT attempt by Meeks was wide.
Tristan Eames was 1-5 for 18 yards, and rushed eight times for 38 yards. Meeks rushed for 23 yards on five carries.
Yosemite coach JD Burnett looks for improvement in the Badger’s defense, establishing some consistency in the running game, and gaining confidence between quarterback Eames and his receivers.
“The amount of support we received from the student body, the band, and the community was overwhelming, and we can’t thank everyone enough” Burnett said. “The players performed to the best of their ability and felt nothing but encouragement from our fans. The program is doing everything the right way ... the players are responding positively and the community is behind us.”
Selma won the JV game, 32-0.
The overall football experience at Yosemite football games has been improved with the team entering the field through an giant inflatable Badgers football helmet. The Yosemite Band has increased to 80 members and fills the middle of the stadium with sound and enthusiasm. New stadium upgrades include fresh paint on the structures in Badger Stadium and an oversized Yosemite logo in the middle of the field.
This Friday, the Badgers hosts the the Corcoran Panthers, who lost their season opener last week to Hanford West, 27-7. The JV game begins at 5 p.m., and the varsity game is at 7 p.m.
NOTE: For additional photos, see sierrastar.com.