The Yosemite Badgers (9-1) undefeated run came to end last Friday night in Caruthers (11-0) in the Central Section D-V football playoffs. The No. 1 seed Blue Raiders scored 32 unanswered points en route to a 39-24 win, and will now will play for the Central Section D-V title this Friday at home against No. 3 seed Firebaugh.
For Caruthers, quarterback Jared Gilmore was 10-14 for 179 yards and three TDs. Imanol Arredondo led all rushers with 115 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns. Chris Puga was 15-50. Isaac Franco caught 4 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. Ronald Delgado caught 5 passes for 79 yards and 2 TDS.
The Badgers scored on their first possession of the game. Cannon Eames returned a kickoff 22-yards to the Badger 37, and then quarterback Tyson Mansfield hit Eames on a 36-yard pass and the Badgers moved to the 9 where the drive stalled. Eames then booted a 28-yard field goal.
After a short YHS kickoff, the Blue Raiders had great field position at their 47. Caruthers moved the ball on the ground to the YHS 15. From there, quarterback Jared Gilmore connected with Isaac Franco for a 22-yard touchdown.
Yosemite High School senior Cannon Eames ended a stellar career in style. Eames caught 7 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown, booted a 25-yard field goal and was 3 for 3 on extra points. Overall, Eames accounted for 12 of the Badgers 24 points. Eames also had a interception at the goal line to end a potential Caruthers score.
Sophomore running back Nicholas Harper ended his great sophomore season leading the Badgers in rushing. Harper rushed 17 times for 71 difficult yards as the Caruthers defense was stout against the run. Harper scored a touchdown. Senior Austen Burgeno was 10-28 and a touchdown.
Senior fullback Peter Martinez caught 3 passes for 50 yards and ran for 21 more.
Quarterback Tyson Mansfield was 16 of 24 for 253 yards and a touchdown. Mansfield had two picks, his first in six games.
Paul Antonis (3-16), Kevin Cruz (2-24), and Steven Baker (1-14) rounded out the Badger receivers.
The Badger run defense did its job holding Caruth ers to 181 yards rushing. The Blue Raiders average 308 yards per game. Seniors Peter Martinez and Ty Peterson led YHS with 11 tackles. Austen Burgeno had 10.
while playing as an independent. Next year, the Badger football program is scheduled to return to the North Sequoia League.
“It was a tough ending to an otherwise stellar season,” Burnett said. “Caruthers made plays in the most critical situations.”
It was back and forth early on but Caruthers erupted for 32-unanswered points-22 of those in the pivotal second quarter.
Mansfield guided the Badgers to a 64-yard scoring drive on their next possession. Mansfield hit Peter Martinez with two key passes and drove YHS to the 21 of Caruthers. From there Nicholas Harper bolted 21 yards for the go ahead touchdown. An Eames point after made it 10-7 at the end of an exciting first quarter.
It was all Caruthers in the second quarter. The Blue Raiders marched down the field aided by a YHS penalty and a first down on a 4th and 3. Imanol Arredondo scored on a 2-yard touchdown run.
Yosemite put together what looked to be another scoring drive. After a 20-yard run by Martinez, Mansfield hit Kevin Cruz with a 24-yard pass to the 5 of Caruthers. On the next play Eames scored but it was nullified by a chop block penalty. On fourth down Mansfield hit Eames at the goal-line but it was marked at the one. It was the turning point in the game.
Caruthers then marched down the field 99-yards with two big pass plays and aided by another YHS penalty. From the YHS 23 yard line, Gilmore hit Ronaldo Delgado for a touchdown. Later in the quarter a Mansfield interception by Chris Puga set up Caruthers at the YHS 33. Gilmore and Delgado connected again for a 9-yard touchdown pass. Franco scored the 2-point conversion. Caruthers blew open a close game and went into halftime with a 29-10 lead. “We had some uncharacteristic mistakes in the second quarter that led to a deficit that proved to be too much to overcome,” Burnett said.
The Badgers were held scoreless in the third. Caruthers built their lead with a 67-yard run by Arredondo. Early in the fourth a 27-yard field goal by Victor Echevarria gave Caruthers their biggest lead at 39-10.
Yosemite scored two touchdowns to finish the game. Eames caught a 22-yard pass from Mansfield and Austen Burgeno scored on a one-yard touchdown run as the game ended.
The loss does not diminish a remarkable Badger football season. Head coach JD Burnett and staff guided the program to the school’s first undefeated regular-season and first home playoff game since 2010. The Badgers endured two game cancellations due to area fires. All this was done with just over 20 players, many who were underclassmen.