The Yosemite High Badgers closed out their regular season at home and on a high note by defeating the Sierra Chieftains 48-7 Oct. 26 in the 37th edition of the Mountain Bowl. The win moves the Badgers to 5-5 for the season heading into the Central Section Division V football playoffs. The Badgers play at Caruthers on Friday, Nov. 2.
Yosemite honored its 11 graduating seniors at the Mountain Bowl: Dylan Allen, Paul Antonis, Diego Combs, Troy Fite, Chris Fuller, Tyson Mansfield, Justin Murzewski, John Nisar, Ryan O’Meara, Nick Pierce and Jeroe Solon.
For Sierra, it has been a tough season for a proud football program. The Badger Faithful saw a situation similar to what YHS faced only a few years ago. Sierra dropped out of the North Sequoia League this season to play a freelance schedule and finished 1-9 with its only win against 0-10 Tranquillity. The Chieftains were outscored 512-20 in 2018. Yosemite returned to the NSL after two years as a freelance team and went 0-4.
The Badgers scored the first 27 points against Sierra. Matt Dugovic scored first on a 23-yard touchdown run. Kevin Welborn caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyson Mansfield. Nic Harper then scored two touchdowns on runs of 29 and 14 yards. Bailey Harper scored Sierra’s only points on a 12-yard run to end the first half with YHS up 27-7.
YHS scored 14 points in the third quarter. Holden Eames’ 10-yard interception return for a touchdown started off the quarter’s scoring. Welborn caught his second touchdown pass, a 21-yarder from Mansfield. Mansfield ended the scoring in the fourth quarter with a 20-yard run.
Dylan Allen had three point-after kicks and Zach Palmer two.
Tyson Mansfield was 7 for 13 for 88 yards and two touchdowns in his last home start. Welborn led YHS with five catches for 73 yards and two touchdowns. It was Welborn’s best performance of the season. Chris Fuller (1-10) and Nick Pierce (1-5) also caught passes.
The Badger run game amassed 257 total yards. Eight Badgers carried the football. Harper had nine carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Dugovic had eight carries for 48 yards and a TD. Diego Combs had 27 yards on five carries. Dylan Allen rushed six times for 26 yards. Mansfield had two carries for 24 yards.
Holden Eames had his sixth interception of the season along with his fourth touchdown return.
The Badger JV (3-7, 0-4) defeated Sierra 27-0. Brandon Garrett scored two first-half touchdowns. In the third quarter, Joey Star blocked a Sierra punt deep in Chieftains territory. Michael Orabuena recovered and took it in for a 10-yard touchdown. Andrew Aguilar scored the 2-point conversion. In the fourth quarter, quarterback Rodney Von Wagner scored on a 10-yard touchdown run to complete the scoring.
Yosemite was selected as the No. 15 seed in the D-V playoffs and will play at No. 2 Caruthers, the defending section champions. The game is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. at Caruthers. Last year, YHS lost at Caruthers 39-24 in the D-V semifinals.
Caruthers (10-0, 6-0) won the West Sequoia League title. The Blue Raider program is one of the most respected in the Valley regardless of size. The program foundation was built by former coach Tom Casanova who was 203-110-5 with 10 league and three section titles. Current coach Brandon Ward is a former player under Casanova.
Badger assistant coach Mike Gibson was a quarterback and linebacker under Casanova and played with Ward. Gibson is still close with Ward and the program. “Caruthers has kept its success because of support from the entire community, great vision from its coaches, and a commitment from the kids,” Gibson said. “There is a strong youth program. Caruthers is strong on fundamentals and loves to run the football. They don’t beat themselves. It’s always been that way. We will have a big challenge but we will be prepared.”
McLane, coached by former YHS coach JC Burnett, received the No. 14 seed and will travel to face No. 3 Kennedy of Delano. Fowler of the WSL was seeded No. 10 and will travel to No. 7 seed Firebaugh; the winner faces the Yosemite-Caruthers winner.