After going 7-3 in the regular season, the Yosemite High football team (8-3), the No. 10 D-V seed in the Central Section playoffs, traveled to face the No. 7 seed Lindsay Cardinals (6-5) Nov. 10, coming home with a sound 36-0 win.
It seemed like the Yosemite Badgers wanted to make a statement. Many of the Badger faithful felt a 7-3 record coming into the playoffs would earn YHS an opening round game at home. Instead, YHS had to make the nearly three-hour bus ride to Lindsay, where the Badgers put together their most complete game of the year with a total of 478 yards of offense (302 passing, 176 rushing), while getting its fourth shutout of the season.
YHS will travel to play No. 2 seed and former Central Sequoia League rival Dos Palos in the D-V semifinals Friday. Dos Palos (7-4) blew away No. 15 seed Kern Valley Thursday night 48-0.
Head coach JD Burnett was pleased with his team’s effort. “It was pretty special tonight,” Burnett said. “We limited our mistakes and put it all together.”
“They were bigger, they were stronger, they were more physical,” Lindsay Coach Matt Mendonca told the Porterville Recorder. “And I told our kids if we don’t win up front, we are going to lose. And that’s what happened. Bottom line we got beat by a better football team, hands down.”
Both Eames brothers, senior QB Tristan and junior wide receiver Cannon, had arguably their best game of the season. Cannon caught 10 passes for 242 yards and two TDs. Tristan was nearly perfect, connecting on 13 of 17 passes for 229 yards and a touchdown, and picked up 58 yards on nine carries and a score.
Luke Howell rushed for 102 yards on 19 carries and scored a TD.
The Badgers played a nearly flawless first half against a young Lindsay team, taking a 17-0 halftime lead. The Badgers scored five out of nine times they were on offense on the night.
Yosemite jumped out to a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter with quarterback Tristan Eames scoring on an 8-yard run. Tristan led YHS with key gains on the ground. Eames then connected with brother Cannon Eames on a 10-yard touchdown pass. The Eames to Eames connection, four passes for 110 yards and a TD, was nearly unstoppable in the first half.
YHS went into halftime up 17-0 on a 30-yard field goal by kicker Joe Campbell. Runs by Luke Howell were also a key to the offense. The Badger offensive and defensive lines were dominant. The Cardinal run game was nearly nonexistent, and YHS forced their freshman quarterback to try and beat them through the air.
YHS kept up the pace with fullback Dylan De La Cruz scoring from the 1-yard line. Yosemite marched down the field on their first possession of the second half, scoring on a 7-play, 58-yard drive highlighted by two Eames to Eames pass completions. It was 23-0 with 5:40 left in the third.
The scoring continued. Taking a hand-off, backup quarterback and sophomore Tyler Matyschock ran left, stopped and launched a 73-yard strike to hit a wide-open Cannon Eames for a touchdown. The point after attempt failed but YHS was up 29-0 with the third quarter winding down.
Late in the third Lindsay threatened to score moving to the YHS 32. A fourth down pass was intercepted by Tristan Eames to end the threat.
YHS then went to the ground to put the game away. After two long gains from Badger running back Luke Howell, Tristan Eames hit Cass Moreno on a 32-yard fade to the 17 of Lindsay. From there Howell took it in from the 5-yard line. The Campbell point after put YHS up 36-0 with a stunned Cardinal crowd beginning to exit.
Lindsay threatened to score as they moved to the YHS 20, but once again the Badger defense held to preserve the shutout.
The night had a special ending as the Badgers were selected as the “Carl’s Jr/Channel 47 Team of the Week” and celebrated at the Tulare location.
Dos Palos Friday
The upcoming road game against No. 2 seed Dos Palos will prove a tough test for the Badgers. The Broncos have a dominant ground attack, rushing for nearly 1,900 yards in 11 games at an average of 5.3 yards every time they run the ball.
The Badgers will be challenged to contain 6-foot-1, 235 pound Tre Walker, who has rushed 87 times for 737 yards (8.5 yards a carry) and nine TDs on the year. He had 179 yards and three TDs on 16 carries last week in the Broncos 48-0 win over Kern Valley - Lake Isabella.
The Broncos have only thrown the ball 82 times on the season, connecting on 39 of those passes. Junior Jonathan Hernandez, 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, has completed 29 passes on 65 attempts for 487 yards, four TDs and has been intercepted eight times.
Senior receiver Rodney Miller leads the team in receptions with 12 for 185 yards.
Dos Palos has also showed off defensive strengths with six shutouts on the year, though when opponents have found their weaknesses, they’ve allowed 185 points in five games.
The defense is led by Miller from his middle linebacker position with 51 tackles on the season. Outside linebacker Chance Benadum is close behind Miller with 48.
The Badgers and Broncos have a history that goes back to the early 1980s.
Under former Head Coach Steve Raupp, in 1983 the Badgers played a historic season, claiming their first league championship with an upset win over two-time defending CIF Champion Dos Palos. At the time, the Broncos were the top ranked small school team in California, and the Badgers’ 10-6 victory ended the Bronco’s 29-game winning streak, the longest in the state at the time.
In 1984, still under Raupp, the Badgers repeated as league champs (9-2-1), again defeating Dos Palos and ending the Broncos’ 67-game home win streak. The Badgers were ranked the No. 1 defensive team in the state with seven shutouts and only 53 points scored against them while holding their opponents to a total of 815 offensive yards during the 12-game season.
Friday’s matchup (Nov. 18) is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Dos Palos High School, where the two teams will face off in another high-stakes game once again.