The Yosemite Badges varsity football team is 2-0 after dominating Laton last Friday 49-3.
The Badgers have not had a 2-0 start since the 2006-2007 team, with a lot of returning starters from a CIF championship team the previous season that went on to a 9-0 record before losing on the road at Sierra on a stormy night.
The 2016 Badgers have quickly raised expectations with its second convincing victory, after opening the season with a 35-0 win over Le Grand on Aug. 26.
Last Friday night at Badger Stadium, the Badgers gained more than 300 yards rushing, while the defense overwhelmed Laton, holding them to a negative 67 rushing yards. In back-to-back games, Yosemite has held its opponent to negative rushing yards. The Badgers also recorded six quarterback sacks, giving them 15 in the first two games of the season.
The Badgers got off to a slow start against Laton with a quick three-and-out.
The Mustangs put some plays together and had a touchdown pass into the end zone called pack on a penalty. After moving backwards in the next couple plays, Laton settled for a 50-yard field goal.
The Badgers got on track quickly as 5-foot-5-inch, 160 pound junior running back Luke Howell had three straight carries for a total 27 yards.
Then 5-foot-5-inch, 140 pound senior running back Johnny Varian picked up 11 yards. Badger senior quarterback Tristan Eames, from the 35, hit junior receiver Cannon Eames in the middle of the field and Cannon out-ran defenders to the end zone to give the Badger’s a 7-3 lead after the PAT kick by Joseph Campbell.
For the remainder of the game, the Badger’s defense showed the kind of play that shut-out Le Grand the week before.
As the Mustangs went down the field aided by Yosemite penalties and a long pass completion, a tackle by sophomore defensive end Tyler Matyshock resulted in a 16-yard loss for Laton, creating a third down and long situation. Under pressure by the Badger defense the Laton quarterback overthrew his receiver and the ball was intercepted by Varian from his safety position at the Badgers 25-yard line.
Two carries by Howell of 23 yards and 13 yards put the Badgers in Laton territory as the first quarter ended. After a Varian five-yard run, Tristan Eames again found his brother Cannon in the end zone and the Badgers were up 14-3.
On the next Laton series, the Mustangs were stopped behind the line of scrimmage on successive plays by Yosemite defensive tackles Kevin Bulawsky and Dylan De La Cruz. The Badgers got the ball back on a punt that Varian returned 22 yards. Eames quickly hit tight end Jacob Werber for 34 yards, and two plays later Varian ran 22 yards into the end zone for a 21-3 Badger lead.
The Badgers stopped the Mustangs and got the ball back. Soon it was Howell running 33 yards to the 1-yard line. Howell then punched it in the end zone on the next play and Yosemite was up 28-3 going into halftime.
Laton took the second half kickoff and after a couple of incomplete passes and a tackle behind the line of scrimmage by linebacker Peter Martinez, the Badgers had the ball again and, after a 30-yard run by Varian and a 13-yard run by Tristan Eames, Varian ran two yards into the end zone for a Yosemite 35-3 lead.
After another defensive stop by the Badgers’ defense, Varian had successive runs of 15, 10 and 15 yards. Eames hit receiver Cass Moreno for 30 yards to put the ball on the two-yard line. Eames took the snap and followed the offensive line into the end zone. Badgers up 42-3 lead.
On the next Laton series Cannon Eames intercepted a pass. Backup running back Dalin Haas was inserted to run the clock down but Haas ran 29 yards for a touchdown, the first ever for the Badger senior playing football for the first time.
84 points in two games
For the second game in a row, the fourth quarter was played with a running clock. The Badgers have now scored 84 points while giving up just three in two games.
Varian (105 yards) and Howell (100 yards) each ran the ball nine times - Hass added 70 yards on seven carries and Tristan Eames ran four times for 26 yards and a TD. Eames was 4 for 6 passing for 144 yards and two TDs.
The special teams PAT unit led by kicker Joseph Campbell is now 12-12 on extra point attempts for the season after making seven against Laton.
“Our defense is relentless,” Head Coach JD Burnett said. “If I was the opposing quarterback, I would not want to look over there and see our guys coming at me.”
Burnett, for the second week, called the home crowd amazing.
“Their energy really gave us a boost,” Burnett said.
Burnett said he has a lot of respect for the effort and courage of the Laton team.
“They remind me a lot of what we were last year - a group of hardworking overmatched kids that never give up,” Burnett said.
The Yosemite JV team beat Laton 47-12 with touchdowns scored by Ernie Jimenez, Diego Combs, and Tyson Mansfield.
Badgers travel to Caruthers Friday
On Friday, the Badgers begin three weeks of away games starting at Caruthers, who beat Tranquility two weeks ago 44-7. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. after the JV game.
“Caruthers has a great program with a history of success,” Burnett said. “They are expected to be a high seed in the playoffs this season. They play a physical smash-mouth style of football. Our physicality and toughness will be tested this week.”
NOTE: For more photos, see sierrastar.com.
Yosemite High Corespondent