The Yosemite Badger football team (8-0) preserved the first undefeated regular season in school history with a 44-10 blowout against Sierra (1-9) in the 36th edition of the Mountain Bowl. The Badger victory avenged a 41-14 loss last year at Badger Stadium.
The Badgers were rewarded with a No. 4 seed in the Central Section D-V playoffs, got a bye this Friday, and will host No. 5 Immanuel on Nov. 17 at Badger Stadium.
Againt Sierra, the Badger run game was in high gear. Overall, YHS accumulated 391 yards on offense, 254 on the ground.
Sophomore running back Nicholas Harper led YHS with 122 yards on 14 carries and a TD. Unofficially, Harper has amassed 1,003 yards for the regular season in just 8 games. Harper has rushed for over 100 yards in 6 of his 8 games.
Austen Burgeno had 101 yards on 15 carries and a TD. It is the third straight 100+ yard game for Burgeno and his fourth of the season. For the season, Burgeno has 612 yards on 110 carries and scored 9 TD’s.
Quarterback Tyson Mansfield was 8-13 for 137 yards and 2 TDs. On the receiving end Cannon Eames caught 4 passes for 88 yards and two touchdowns.
29 points in first quarter
Against Sierra, Yosemite jumped out to a 29-0 lead in a first quarter, and would cruise the rest of the way.
“It was the best first quarter of football that I have ever been a part of,” Badger head coach JD Burnett said. “It feels great to bring the Mountain Bowl trophy back to Yosemite.”
The Badger players went out not knowing their place in history. “Our players did not realize we were playing of the first undefeated regular season in school history until I told them what they had accomplished after the game.”
Special teams made a statement early for the Badgers. On the first play of the game a Sierra kickoff was taken by Kevin Cruz who raced 50 yards for a touchdown. On the ensuing Badger kickoff a pooch kick was recovered by Ernie Jimenez at the Sierra 36. From there it was all Burgeno who made key runs and scored on a 3-yard TD.
After the Badger defense held Sierra on 4th down, Mansfield connected with Eames for a 44-yard TD on the first play of the drive. It was another great catch from Eames who out-jumped the Sierra defender, broke a tackle, and ran in for the touchdown.
Later in the first Mansfield hit Eames for a 22-yard TD pass to give Yosemite a quick 29-0 lead.
Sierra answered on their next series with Shane Maldonado running for a 63-yard TD. The senior Maldonado would end his high school career with 101 yards rushing on the night. Last year he torched the Badgers rushing for 241 yards and 4 TD’s.
YHS was up 29-7 at halftime. During halftime the Chieftains honored injured Badger JV player PJ Kuzmitski with a gift.
Early in the third Badger defensive back Chris Ricciardi recovered a Maldonado fumble at the Chieftain 48. Harper had a 21 yard run and fullback Peter Martinez had two key carries. Finally, Mansfield scored on a 1-yard sneak.
In the fourth quarter Sierra scored on a 35-yard field goal by Parker Luke. Badger running back Ernie Jimenez finished the scoring with a 9-yard touchdown run. Mansfield picked up a mishandled snap on the point after and completed a pass to Eames for the two-point conversion.
On defense Ty Peterson and Peter Martinez led YHS with 11 tackles each, and Caleb Burke had 5.
The Badger JV team (5-2) ended one of the best seasons in school history without playing last because Sierra did no have a JV team this year. Head coach Mike Gipson’s JV squad recorded a streak of five straight victories including three shut outs. JV players brought up to varsity are Steven Baker, Jadyn Carter, Matt Dugovic, Jorge Olmedo, Azariah Ryan, and Dylan Silbaugh.
YHS to play Immanuel in playoffs
The Badgers will play their first home playoff game since 2010.
“The seeding committee did a great job this year,” Burnett said. “We are excited to finally host a home game at Badger Stadium. It is something our players really wanted.”
Burnett feels the D-V playoffs will be up for grabs. “There are 10 teams in D-V that have a legitimate chance to win the Valley title this year. The equality of the D-V division is going to make for some amazing playoff games.”
The Immanuel Eagles of Reedley(4-5, 1-4 Central Sequoia League). Eight of the nine teams Immanuel faced this season are in the playoffs.