Badgers overcome early mistake, rally behind Harper and Mansfield for win at Mariposa

Nicholas Harper scoots through a hole opened by blockers against Riverdale.
Nicholas Harper scoots through a hole opened by blockers against Riverdale. courtesy Yosemite High Football

It was another football rivalry game and another win for Yosemite. It wasn’t easy. YHS got behind early and played their worst first half of the season. But with adjustments by the coaching staff, solid running behind running back Nicholas Harper and a strong second half performance from quarterback Tyson Mansfield the Badgers kept their perfect season alive with a difficult 26-12 win Friday, Sept. 7 at Mariposa.

“It was a tough, physical game from the start until the final whistle,” coach Chance Sigala said. “Mariposa had a good game plan and stayed with it all night. We made some key adjustments at halftime. I credit a lot of that to my staff. We told our players to take one play at a time, play hard until the final whistle, and never give up because the game will take care of itself. We finished strong. It’s a credit to our kids.”

The Badgers (4-0) could have pitched a shutout if not for key mistakes. Mariposa (1-2) was missing key players including leading running back Logan Donati who suffered a possible season-ending injury against Summerville a week earlier. His absence really showed on offense. Mariposa scored on special teams and a Badger mistake. The Grizzly defense, the strength of Mariposa, never quit punishing Badger runners and chasing Mansfield out of the pocket all night.

The Badgers dug themselves in a hole early with mistakes on special teams and penalties. Early in the first quarter YHS mishandled a punt deep in its territory giving Mariposa possession at the Badger 3 yard-line. Grizzly running back Elijah Lewis bowled in from the 1 for the first score. The point after failed. The Grizzlies defense and Badger miscues gave Mariposa a 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter Yosemite went to its staple, running back Nicholas Harper, who bolted for a 44-yard touchdown run. Harper took it in for the 2-point conversion and YHS was up 8-6. It was a lead the Badgers would not relinquish. Later in the quarter on a fourth-and-19, Mansfield connected with Steven Baker in the corner of the end zone. Yosemite went into halftime up 14-6.

In the third quarter Mariposa closed the gap on a 78-yard kickoff return from Christian Stockwell. It was a well-designed deception play that had the Badger special teams completely fooled. The 2-point conversion failed and the Badgers held on to a narrow 14-12 lead.

From there it was all Badgers. Harper had a 47-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Mansfield connected with Baker again, this time on a 54-yard pass in the fourth quarter to seal a hard-fought win.

Badger Stats

Harper had another stellar performance leading all rushers with 279 yards on 29 attempts and scoring 2 TDs. Harper now has 743 yards in four games this season ranking him 2nd in the Central Section, according to (Note: YHS does not report to MaxPreps.) Harper is averaging 186 yards per game this season.

Mansfield was 8 for 20 for 152 yards and 2 TDs. Mansfield is now 13-1 as a varsity starter, one of the best win percentages for a quarterback in YHS history.

Steven Baker had a breakout game. The sophomore had five catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Baker also rushed for 21 yards on four attempts.

The YHS defense was the difference allowing virtually no run game and limiting Mariposa’s passing attack. Take away the 34-point night from Parlier and the Badger defense has allowed an average of only 7 points a game.

Mariposa stats were unavailable.

Badger JV routed

Facing perhaps the best JV squad they will see all season the Badgers (2-2) were blanked 34-0 by the Grizzly JV (3-0). It was 27-0 at halftime. Garrett McMechan led YHS with 34 yards rushing. Rev Alberta led YHS with two receptions for 45 yards. Quarterback Rodney Von Wagner was 5 of 13 for 70 yards and an interception.

Badgers host McLane

It will be a special game in two ways this Friday, Sept. 14 against McLane at Badger Stadium. Game times: 5 p.m. JV and 7 p.m. Varsity.

First, McLane is coached by former Badger head coach JD Burnett. Burnett also has two former Badger coaches as assistants: Bonner Cunnings (assistant coach) and Brian Johnson (offensive line).

Second, McLane is undefeated at 3-0 this season. The Highlanders, who play in the North Yosemite League, are a Central Section Division V team that has beaten three former playoff teams this year: Mendota, Hanford West and Exeter. Burnett inherited a team that was 0-10 in 2017.

Burnett and Johnson know virtually every Badger player. The Highlanders play the Bear defense, like YHS. It will be the toughest test of the young season for Yosemite.