The Yosemite High football team will have its first home playoff game since 2010 at 7 p.m., this Friday at Badger Stadium.
The Badgers (8-0) are competing in the CIF Central Section D-V 11-team playoffs, after receiving the No. 4 seed. Playing as an independent for the second year away from the North Sequoia League, it was the first undefeated regular season in school history, despite the cancellation of two home games due to fires.
The Badgers will face the Immanuel Eagles (4-5 CSL) of Reedley, who received the No. 5 seed, and played in the tough Central Sequoia League. Despite a losing record, the Eagles got the No. 5 seed due to a difficult schedule, an important component in the CIF selection committee criteria.
Immanuel’s losses were to Chowchilla, Dinuba, Exeter, Selma, and Kingsburg - all playoff teams in upper divisions. The Eagle’s biggest win was on Nov. 3 to an 8-2 Central Valley Christian team, also a playoff team.
“Immanuel will be a challenge,” Badger Head Coach JD Burnett said. “They are well coached and play hard-nosed football. The Central Sequoia League, along with the North Sequoia League are considered the best small-school conferences in the Valley. We are really happy to be hosting a playoff game for our fans.”
On offense, Immanuel is balanced averaging 150 yards passing and 138 rushing a game. Senior quarterback Adam Simonian was 72 of 136 passes for 1,354 yards and 13 TDs, with 7 interceptions, and also ran for 177 yards on 65 carries with 5 TDs.
Running backs include Chris Gurrola (34 carries/293 yards, 5 TDs), Matt Tiger (52 carries/272 yards), Josh Reimer (45 carries/202 yards), and Derek Wood (218 carries/167 yards).
Bradley Collins is the big play receiver for the Eagles, with 29 catches for 638 yards and 6 touchdowns on the season. Gurrola is also a threat out of the backfield with 21 catches for 361 yards and 4 TDs, and is also the team’s kickoff returner (272 yards) and has amassed 926 all-purpose yards this season.
The Eagles will face a Badger squad on a roll. YHS has not played the schedule of the Eagles-only Mariposa and Bishop made the playoffs. YHS has won some difficult contests overcoming road game deficits. In three games the Badgers put together game-winning or game preserving drives mostly on the ground. Those wins against Bishop, Farmersville, and Amador were ‘playoff-type’ wins.
Burnett proudly calls his offense ‘old-school’ which is about controlling the ball on the ground, limiting mistakes and opponents possessions. YHS has totaled nearly 2,000 yards rushing with an additional nearly 1,000 yards through the air.
The Badger O-line of Caleb and Clay Burke, Noah Burns, Dylan De La Cruz, Klay Kliest, Orion Olah, and tight ends Peter Martinez and Ty Peterson have been the foundation of the Badgers success on the ground.
Harper and Burgeno have combined for 1,615 yards rushing in 8 games
Sophomore Nicholas Harper leads YHS with 1,003 yards rushing on 128 carries and 10 TDs in just 8 games - More than all four Immanuel running backs combined. Harper has rushed for 100+ yards in 6 straight games.
Senior Austen Burgeno has 612 yards on 110 carries and 9 touchdowns. When YHS needs tough short yards they often turn to 6-foot-1, 215 pound senior fullback/tight end Peter Martinez who has rushed for 138 yards in just 20 carries and has scored 2 TDs.
Cannon Eames is the leading Badger receiver with 25 catches for 504 yards and 6 touchdowns in only 5 games. Eames is also the Badger kicker who rarely misses an extra point and has the leg to kick a long field goal.
In his first varsity season junior quarterback Tyson Mansfield has quietly produced a solid season-his first as a varsity starter. Mansfield doesn’t throw much but he is efficient. Overall, Mansfield has completed 67 of 118 passes (57%) for 10 touchdowns against only 3 interceptions. Mansfield has had 5 straight games without a pick (66 passes), and has has rushed for 2 touchdowns.
Mansfield directed two come from behind, game-winning TD drives at Bishop and Farmersville. Against Amador he engineered another long drive to preserve a tough 10-7 win.
A Yosemite victory would put the team in the semi-finals against the winner of the No. 1 seed Caruthers, and ( Fowler or Kennedy) on Friday Nov. 24. The winner of that game will have a shot at the D-V championship game on Dec. 1.