As many in the Badger Football Family already know, Yosemite High School head football coach JD Burnett is now the head coach at McLane High School in Fresno. Due to budget cuts Burnett lost his principal/teacher position at Raymond/Granite High School. Burnett was also a part-time PE teacher at YHS, but unfortunately he was low on the totem pole.
Burnett’s departure is a huge loss. It is a loss not just for the football program but for the entire community. Some people are not replaceable and I fear we may never see again the glory days of the last two seasons again, but I hope I am wrong.
Great football coaches are a rare commodity. Burnett learned from one of the best, his former coach Aaron Eames who led YHS to two section titles when YHS was the dominant D-III program in the early 2000s.
Burnett resurrected one of the most popular, and biggest revenue generating sports program at YHS. His accomplishments in just three years is admirable and in my opinion, historic.
Burnett leaves YHS with an 18-14 overall record from 2015 to 2017. When Burnett took over the program in 2015 YHS was mired in a 23-game losing streak. In Burnett’s first year, YHS went 0-9, but in his last two seasons YHS put together an18-5 record playing as an independent in D-V.
In 2016 YHS had a huge turnaround going 9-4. It was one of the great one-year football turnarounds in Central Section history. The season included two road playoff wins: Lindsay 36-0 and Dos Palos 29-14. The win over an always tough Dos Palos team was one of the greatest Badger football wins I’ve witnessed.
After a great run YHS lost to D-V runner up Firebaugh 37-20, the same school that produced the possible No.1 2018 NFL draft pick, quarterback Josh Allen.
In 2017 Burnett guided the Badgers to its first undefeated regular season going 9-0. YHS hosted a home playoff game, the first since 2010, and defeated Immanuel 42-21. YHS lost in the semi-finals to eventual Central Section D-V champion and state finalist Caruthers 39-24.
It’s what Burnett did behind the scenes that was most impressive, rebuilding the program from the ground up. His goal was to instill a winning attitude and work ethic.
Burnett got the administration to re-instate ‘7th period’ PE. The period was devoted to a weightlifting class, essential for success in football and frankly any other sport. It was under Burnett’s direction in the weight room where YHS became a D-5 power. Burnett was admired by fellow coaches for creating bigger and stronger players.
Former YHS JV coach Matt Pressly said he gained knowledge from Burnett.
“He did an outstanding job in the weight room. He created a great environment and his players totally bought in,” Pressly said. His teaching techniques were outstanding. I have brought many of his lifting techniques to Calaveras High.” Pressly is now an assistant coach at the Sac-Joaquin powerhouse. These are comments from a football coach with 35 years of coaching experience in high school, junior college, and as a scout in the NFL.
Under Burnett’s recommendation YHS Football left the North Sequoia League for two years (YHS is set to return this year). Burnett put together a schedule of teams that played in the same division and matched the YHS student population. Burnett wanted to play competitive and winnable games.
Prior to Burnett’s arrival YHS wasn’t competitive. For many years there were less than 20 players suited up for games. There were too many injuries, and the administration at the time didn’t support 7th period PE. This year there were nearly 30 varsity players and even more on JV.
Burnett, a former YHS player, instituted the Badger Football Wall of Fame to honor former greats at the school. The annual Wall of Fame dinner, now in its third year is a great event that brings former players, friends, and families together.
Burnett, along with the Badger Football Boosters, instilled community enthusiasm for the program. The “Paint the Town Blue’ program was welcomed by businesses throughout Oakhurst, with flags and banners hanging all over town on game days.
Badger Stadium was getting loud crowds again. JD’s wife Jodi did a great job with the cheerleaders. You see, this was a total family affair as it was with Kent and Jennifer Lincoln before them.
Yosemite High is where JD always wanted to be. “YHS was my dream job ever since I got into coaching,” Burnett said. “I love this community. I owe so much to this school. I wish Yosemite High nothing but success in the future.”
Burnett was forced to look for a new position once budget cuts were announced. He wanted to stay, but received no indication that he could remain an employee of the district. He had to do what was best for his family. It is one of the many sad storylines from the fallout of the budget situation at YUSD.
For the reasons listed above Burnett was a huge value-add to this community. Burnett’s teams put people back in the benches at Badger Stadium. That means revenue. Speaking of revenue streams (average daily attendance) will YHS now lose more players to Minarets?
“We were significantly overstaffed at YHS,” YHS principal Regina Carr said. “Tough decisions had to be made. Coach Burnett did a fantastic job. We honestly didn’t want to lose him. I totally understand he had to be sure of employment as well as continuing his coaching career. We absolutely wish him the best.”
from 3 PE teachers to 1
Some had hoped that Burnett could remain as a PE teacher but the department was cut. There were once three PE teachers at YHS, but now there is now only one for 600+ students. That means about 50-60 students in each class. Those numbers are staggering. I’m not sure many parents know this.
I had heard that the 7th period weightlifting class may not be funded next year. History shows dropping 7th period would set the football program back as well as other sports, and put players at risk for injury. Currently Scott Rold is doing a great job filling in after Burnett’s departure.
I was relieved after speaking with interim Superintendent Mike Berg who said “we are committed to having a strong weightlifting program for all athletes. We will find a way to keep this program going.” Berg is from Central High and knows how great football programs are built.
The Highlanders of McLane are thrilled to get one of the best young coaches in the Central Section. Burnett inherits a program that went 0-10 last year. McLane was 2-28 in the last three years. Expect that to change, because Burnett will instill the Yosemite blueprint and he will turn McLane around.
The new YHS head coach will have his hands full. YHS is stocked with some very talented athletes, many with varsity experience. It will be tough going back to the NSL.
The new coach is expected to be announced soon. No matter who is chosen, we need to support him and his staff. This is what JD would want. Thanks for everything Coach Burnett and Jodi. Myself and so many others wish you nothing but success in the future. You deserve it.