Last Friday’s Yosemite-Minarets football game was circled on each school’s calendar at the start of the season. Minarets (2-3) was seeking revenge for the 50-0 shutout by Yosemite (3-0) last season in their first-ever meeting.
It didn’t happen as the Badgers, led by sophomore running back Nic Harper’s 162 yards rushing and three touchdowns, defeated the Mustangs 27-14.
“Our players really fed off the positive energy from the stands,” Badger Head Coach JD Burnett said. “With our physical leader Peter Martinez out for an undisclosed disciplinary action, other players picked up the slack. Minarets scored on their first and last possessions of the game, but our defense held them scoreless in between.”
The Badger defense had 17 hurries, 7 by Ty Peterson, with Harper leading YHS with 7 tackles, and Ben Negley with 5. In a big blow to the team, Negley suffered an season-ending broken arm.
Starting at their own 48, Mustang running back Jacob Cullen (10 carries, 106 yards) made some big gains as the Mustangs opened some big holes for him. Minarets moved down field on an impressive drive with receiver Preston Conti scoring from five yards out on a slant pass. Payton Phillips booted the point after.
After a long kickoff return by Cannon Eames, Harper had a nice 29-yard run. Aided by a pass interference penalty the ball was moved to the Mustang 4-yard line, with Harper running it in for his first TD of the night. Eames knotted the score at 7 with the point after.
After a long Cullen kickoff return, Minarets moved deep into Badger territory, but the Badger defense held and took over on downs. Badger Junior QB Tyson Mansfield (7-16, 117 yards) hit Eames for 20 yards, and the team moved downfield aided by Mustang penalties. Austen Burgeno took it in from the two, making the score 14-7 at the end of an exciting first quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, Eames returned a punt 22 yards to the 34, and on the next play Harper bolted up the middle, breaking a couple tackles and outrunning the Mustang secondary for his second TD, making the score 21-7.
After another long Cullen kick return, Mustang QB Noah Hunter (14-27 for 114 yards and 2 TDs) connected on a 38-yard pass to Conti to the YHS 15, but Badger defensive lineman Dylan De La Cruz had a 12-yard sack to stop the threat.
With 53 seconds before half, a pass to Eames was deflected and picked off by Conti who ran it in for a TD, which was nullified by a holding call. The Mustangs were at the YHS 27. Again, the YHS pass rush pressured Fulton and an intentional grounding call ended the drive. It was the turning point in the game as the Mustangs had a chance to make it a one possession game. YHS went into halftime up 21-7.
After a scoreless third quarter, Harper sealed the win with a 39-yard run around left end. Fulton connected with Conti in the corner of end zone as time expired. Conti led all receivers with 5 catches for 89 yards and two scores.
Yosemite was flagged for 12 penalties for 120 yards and Minarets 10 for 140. “Our penalties made it difficult for us to get in a rhythm offensively,” Burnett said.
“We couldn’t ask for a better game,” Minarets Head Coach Becher Marr said. “Both teams showed up to play. Our only disappointment is knowing a few calls here or there would have changed the score. Good opponents and a tough game like this will help us improve.”
YHS JV blank Mustangs 48-0
The JV Badgers (2-1) continued their winning ways with a 48-0 win over the Minarets JV (0-4) team. Overall, 6 Badgers scored. The Badger defense set the tone early with corner Holden Eames intercepting the Mustangs on their opening drive. YHS marched 10 plays covering 66 yards with Badger running back Justin Micallef scoring from the 3. Badger quarterback Jadyn Carter improvised on the point after and hit Drake Airey in the corner of the end zone for an unplanned 2-point conversion.
The Minarets offense then suffered a blow with starting QB Martin Urroz injured early. He was replaced by Jordan Rodkey. The Mustang offense was held to negative yardage for the entire game.
On their next possession, YHS started at the Badger 46. Carter hit go to receiver Steven Baker twice for long gains, and Carter took it in from the 7. Kicker Zach Palmer booted the point after. It was 15-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Mustang returner Joe Gonzales took a kickoff 65 yards to the YHS 15, but the Badger defense held. It was the closest Minarets would get all night.
Carter then hit receiver Holden Eames for 34 yards, and Micallef would then score from the 5. It was 22-0 YHS at the half.
Other Badger TDs came from Garrett McMechan on a 17-yard run, Matt Dugovic on a 41-yard TD, and backup QB Holden Eames with a sneak from the 4 and later adding a 5-yard touchdown run to end the game.
Badgers travel to Bishop
Yosemite will make the long trek to play the Bishop Broncos (2-2) this Friday.
This will be one of the biggest tests of the season for the Badgers.
Last year YHS got by Bishop at Badger Stadium 28-21 in one of most exciting games of the 2016 season. Bishop went on to the D-V playoffs losing 39-28 to Firebaugh. The Broncos, who play in the High Desert League, are currently ranked No. 4 in D-V according to MaxPreps.com. Yosemite is ranked No. 3.
Mustangs face Aztecs
Minarets faces their toughest opponent of 2017 Friday night at home playing the Aztecs of Mendota.
The Aztecs (1-3) of the West Sierra League are off to their slowest start in recent memory. ESPN did a documentary on the program ll in 2014. Mendota, coached by Robert ‘Beto’ Mejia has dominated D-VI and D-V for the last 5 years. They were 13-1 last season winning league and another CIF D-V title crushing Firebaugh 50-22. They lost in the NorCal D-V championship to Amador 21-14. Since taking over in 2011 Mejia is 53-15 with two section titles.