The Yosemite High Football program celebrated its great 2017 season at its recent year-end football banquet at Oak Creek Elementary School attended by more than 100 players, families and friends.
Varsity Head Coach JD Burnett reviewed the varsity and JV season and he and assistant coaches praised each player in attendance.
2017 made history as the varsity Badgers were undefeated in the regular season, the only team to do so in YHS football annals. The Badgers won a D-V home playoff game against Immanuel before losing to No. 1 seed Caruthers, the eventual CIF D-V champion. YHS ended the season at 9-1.
For the past two seasons, Yosemite has played as an independent against schools with similar enrollments but is scheduled to return to the North Sequoia League in 2018.
“We did this by overcoming a lot of obstacles,” said Burnett. “We had two games canceled due to fires, key injuries, and a lot of underclassmen playing varsity for the first time. We had an amazing year because we worked hard starting in the summer and were united as a team and coaching staff. We never let our challenges get us down. I am very proud of this group.”
Burnett honored the 10 departing seniors: Chance Bolding, Austen Burgeno, Clay Burke, Giovanni DeOliviera, Cannon Eames, Klay Kliest, Peter Martinez, Ben Negley, Orion Olah and Chris Ricciardi.
“Our seniors stuck it out when things were down. They went from being 0-9 as sophomores to 9-0 as seniors. We couldn’t have done all this without the support from parents and the community,” Burnett said.
Burnett especially praised the Oakhurst business community for their support of Badger football.
“Over 50 businesses supported our ‘Paint the Town Blue Campaign,” Burnett said. “It was huge for us. We are only given $1,250 for expenses. We couldn’t have done all we did this past season without the support of the YHS Football Boosters and the business community.”
In just three years Burnett and his staff have transformed the fortunes of YHS Football. After going 0-9 in his first season, Burnett is 18-5 in two seasons reaching the D-V quarterfinals twice while winning three playoff games in two years. Under Burnett YHS left the NSL to play as an Independent allowing YHS to schedule opponents more in line with Yosemite’s enrollment. Burnett also revamped the Badger Youth Football programs and started the annual Wall of Fame Awards, an event that has sold out each of its two years in existence.
Martinez Most Valuable Player
Burnett was proud to pass out a number of awards:
☆ Team MVP: Senior Peter Martinez played fullback and tight end on offense and linebacker on defense. On the season Martinez was second in tackles (60) and sacks (3.0). He rushed 22 times for 157 yards averaging a team-high 7.1 yards per carry and scored 2 TDs. He caught 8 passes for 95 yards and a TD. “Peter showed incredible commitment to the program,” Burnett said. “He never missed a practice. He worked hard in the weight room. Peter was an amazing blocker and reliable receiver. He constantly put pressure on the quarterback on defense and was truly a special player.”
☆ Offensive MVP: Sophomore Nicholas Harper, in his first year as a varsity starter, led YHS in rushing yards (1,163) and TDs (13). He averaged 7.0 yards per carry and had six games with 100 yards or more in rushing. Harper was crucial in three long game-winning drives to preserve the 9-0 record.
☆ Defensive MVP: Senior Ty Peterson, a three-year starter, led YHS in tackles with 86 and tied a school record with 3 fumble recoveries in a game. Peterson is the all-time leader in fumble recoveries with 8 and departs as one of the Badgers all-time leading tacklers.
☆ Lifetime Achievement Award: Senior Cannon Eames was statistically one of the most productive receivers in school history. This season Eames led YHS with 37 catches for 790 yards and 7 TDs. He leaves as the YHS career leader in total TDs (32), career receiving TDs (29), career most points scored (234), most points in a game (34), and single season receptions (63).
☆ Most Valuable Lineman: Senior center Klay Kliest anchored an offensive line that blew open holes for YHS running backs. As a team YHS averaged nearly 6 yards per carry. “We made a lot of adjustments this season,” Kliest said. “As a group we were close. Coach (Brian) Johnson had to change lineups almost every week but it worked. We worked hard during summer and it really paid off. It was a great way to go out as a senior.”
☆ The Iron Man Award: Austen Burgeno. “Austen’s hard work and dedication in the weight room turned him into a tough inside runner who also had speed outside,” Burnett said. “It is an important award in this program and Austen totally deserved it.” Burgeno rushed 138 times for 744 yards and 10 touchdowns and was a shut down corner on defense with 41 tackles.
☆ Most Improved Defensive Player: Senior Clayton Burke made the difficult move from the D-line to linebacker and he thrived. Burke led YHS in sacks (3.5) and was fourth in tackles at 44.
☆ Most Improved Offensive Player: Junior quarterback Tyson Mansfield in his first year as a varsity starter was 90 of 152 (60% completion rate) in passing, including 12 TDs against only 5 interceptions. Mansfield went 6 straight games (84 passes) without an interception.
☆ Coaches Award: Johnny Alsup.
☆ Brothers Caleb and Clay Burke were CIF and YHS Scholar Athletes with 3.75 GPAs.
The JV team, guided by Coach Mike Gibson went 6-2 for the season, one of the best records in recent memory. PJ Kuzmitski received the Coaches Award. “PJ has such a positive spirit,” Coach Burnett said. “He is such a great example of battling through adversity. You love to coach young men like that. He is such a special person.”
Doctors were forced to amputate Kuzmitski’s right leg below the knee on Oct. 3 after he suffered a horrific injury during a Sept. 27 practice.
Justin Micallef was named the Defensive MVP and Kyler Schaeffer was the Offensive MVP.
Steven Baker, Jaydn Carter, Matt Dugovic, Jorge Olmedo, Gabe Swigart and Azariah ryan earned varsity letters after moving up for playoffs.