Looking for something different on Cinco de Mayo? How about watching football at Yosemite High School’s Badger Stadium? The semi-pro Valley Stallions, currently playing out of Clovis will play their game against the San Francisco based NorCal Stampede in Oakhurst this Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Stallions play in the 10-team West Coast Football Alliance with teams from San Francisco to Bakersfield. The league plays 8 games a year. Currently the Stallions are 2-2 with three away games and one home game, the one in Oakhurst Saturday. The team was 8-2 last season.
In 2019, the Stallions plan on being based in Oakhurst and play all their home games at Badger Stadium.
“It was a great surprise when I heard from the Stallions,” YHS Athletic Director Rusty Oetinger said. “This Saturday’s game will be a good trial run for next season. The Valley Stallions will be a great addition to the Mountain Area community. We feel they will be a great community partner that will also benefit Yosemite High.”
The Stallions are co-owned by Scott Thompson of Fresno and Lorenzo Sanchez. Sanchez, a former football coach at Kerman High resides in Ahwahnee. Carlos Ornelas is the general manager. All three are coaches and players.
“We all wear many hats in semi-pro football but we love what we do,” said Sanchez.
“We absolutely want to be partner in the community,” Thompson said. “Proceeds at the concession stands will go toward programs at YHS. We also would like to help the Badger football program. We will reach out to the new coach and offer whatever help is needed. We would even like to volunteer some of our coaching staff and even put on clinics for players and youth leagues.”
For Thompson, it’s also about helping and promoting his players.
“Playing semi-professional football is something our players do for free. But for many it is a second chance. Many in this league are hopeful for something more, whether it’s Arena Football or even college. We are here to give players a chance, a shot at competing at a higher level. We will help promote those who want to move up. It’s something we are very proud of.”
Thompson plays quarterback, receiver and “wherever they need me on defense.” Sanchez is a running back and coaches the same position. Ornelas plays offensive and defensive line and coaches both positions.
Besides football, helping others is also a passion for Ornelas. Ornelas, a product of Hoover High is a cook during the day. He also volunteers for many non-profit outreach organizations for troubled youth in Fresno. Ornelas helps conduct ‘special needs football camps’ around the Valley. “It’s important to me to give back and that’s why I love being part of the Stallions. We are excited to be here Saturday and next year.”
Tickets are $7 for adults. Children under 12, veterans, and 55 and older all get in for free.
“We wanted to make this affordable for families,” Sanchez said. “We encourage fans to come out and watch a fun brand of football with all proceeds from food and snack concessions going back to Yosemite High.”