It was an emotional game for both teams.
Yosemite High Coach JD Burnett was the Kerman Lions football coach for the last two seasons before coming to YHS. He coached and mentored most of the current Lion squad. For the Badgers, the team Burnett and staff are rebuilding, it was another difficult test and the end of a tough four-game road trip.
The Lions (3-3, 1-1 NSL) came out on fire, scoring 41 straight points en route to a 48-21 win over the Badgers (0-6, 0-2), as the Badger defense could not stop the Lion ground game.
Mark Rodriguez scored three TDs and Sean Chambers added two more for Kerman. Overall, the Lions rushed for six touchdowns and 340 yards.
Coach Burnett was blunt but still positive.
“We were overmatched up front on both sides of the ball,” Burnett said. “Our skill positions matched up well. Our defense held a great passing game to only four of 11 and a touchdown. In the long run, it’s going to take some more time in the weight room to meet the level of Kerman’s physicality. But as athletes go, we are not far away.”
Yosemite put together two drives that got inside the Lion 5-yard line, but they couldn’t punch it in. Badger turnovers also hurt the team.
A 55-yard run by Badger John Barian went all the way to the Kerman five, but on the very next play a tipped pass resulted in a Lion interception. Four first half turnovers contributed to three touchdowns for Kerman.
The Badgers would finally get on the board in the third period. QB Tristan Eames connected with brother Cannon on a 7-yard pass play. The Badgers scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Yosemite running back Jesse De La Cruz worked hard for his yards all night. The sophomore back busted a 30-yard touchdown. Later in the quarter wide out Cass Moreno hauled in a 21-yard pass from Tristan Eames.
Burnett had nothing but praise for his former school.
“It was nice to see everyone in Kerman,” Burnett said. “My time there was wonderful. It is a great school, community, and families.”
“Offensively we found a way to throw for two touchdowns and rush for 225 yards,” Burnett said.
De La Cruz picked up his third 100-yard rushing game of the season. A young Badger offensive line, against a much larger Lion defensive line, continued to give Badger runners opportunities.
QB Eames was 14-23 for 115 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 23 yards.
Wide receiver Cass Moreno caught five passes for 48 yards and a TD. Cannon Eames had six catches for 36 yards and a TD.
Yosemite hosts Chowchilla
Yosemite hosts Chowchilla (5-2, 1-1) Friday at Badger Stadium. The Redskins lost last week to Washington Union, 30-12.
Chowchilla runs 80% of the time, average 270 yards per game, and have scored 23 touchdowns in seven games.
Seniors Anthony Stewart (617 yards on 81 carries - 8 TDs - 7.6 ypc) and Alex Gutierrez (560 yards on 63 carries - 8 TDs - 9 ypc), lead the ground game, and Gutierrez leads Chowchilla with seven receptions for 157 yards and two TDs.
Chowchilla is led by junior QB Ryan Selby, who has only thrown 25 times completing 13 passes for 307 yards and four TDs this season.
Seniors Ciara Wilkeyson and Brandy Di Fiore will be selling pink T-Shirts at the entrance to the game, to raise funds for Mountain Area families that have been affected by breast cancer. They will also be selling raffle tickets for a number of prizes including a large pink blanket, a pink ice chest, and a “mystery box.”
“We are asking people to wear pink to the game in support of National Breast Cancer Month,” Di Fiore said.
North Sequoia League update
Washington Union and Liberty lead the pack, but it’s a four-team race in the NSL. Liberty plays at Union Friday. The winner will certainly be in the NSL driver’s seat.