Yosemite High School’s 5-foot-5, 140 pound senior running back Johnny “Boi” Varian, in only his second year of organized football, put on a show last Friday at the Mariposa Fairgrounds, carrying the ball 23 times for 332 yards (14.4 yards per carry average).
His performance was just 15 yards short of the school record of 347 yards set by Phil Bransetter in 1993. The Badgers rushed for 506 yards as a team, just 21 yards short of the all-time record of 527 set in 2002 against Sierra.
This success starts with a revamped offensive line (Kevin Bulawsky, Clayton Burke, Klay Kliest, Peter Martinez, Ty Peterson) who worked very hard this summer in the weight room. The line is big, and intelligent.
Then you have Varian, Luke Howell, and Austen Burgeno. They are small but quick backs with great cutback moves. Varian’s moves are instinctive and once he gets past the defensive front not many linebackers or defensive backs can catch him.
Varian is a soccer player still learning the game of football. Head coach JD Burnett saw this last year, but Varian didn’t get the touches playing behind another outstanding back in Jesse De La Cruz. When De La Cruz went down with an injury in the preseason, Varian and Luke Howell became the featured backs. It has been a solid 1-2 punch. De La Cruz is expected to return Friday against Minarets, giving YHS three solid running backs.
Howell was out against Caruthers and he was missed, as he and Varian are similar runners and having him back at Mariposa made a big difference. With Howell at tailback, Burnett moves Varian to the wing. Burgeno lines up at slot. From there Tristan Eames, another outstanding runner, has lots of options that makes headaches for any defensive coordinator. It’s a quadruple running threat not seen in Badgerland since I’ve been covering this team. This is a fun group to watch.
A foothill-mountain league of our own - I would so like to see this league: Yosemite, Le Grand, Mariposa, Minarets, and Sierra, in a D-V league in the Central Section. I keep hearing that Mariposa and Le Grand would like to be in the Central Section. For no other reason than logistics, it seems like a great idea. The enrollments are fairly close, and I don’t have to sell anyone on the attraction of great rivalries.
Friday night’s Yosemite-Minarets football game should be another entertaining night.
For those of you who were not part of the 500-plus crowd to attend the volleyball match between Yosemite and Minarets Sept. 6 at YHS, you missed out. You would have witnessed two very good Central Section programs.
The Badgers, deep in talent, are coached by Michele Chenowith and currently have an impressive 23-3 record.
Minarets (9-5) is coached by Jessica Carter.
When it comes to winning section titles, volleyball is king for both Yosemite and Minarets. They are the flagship sports for both schools.
For Yosemite, no sports program has been more successful in winning section titles. The Badgers have won six, the last in 2004. Chenowith won two of those in the 90s. This year Chenowith has only lost one game with a D-III team with no seniors.
Last year YHS was 30-11, and lost to Mission Oak in the D-III playoffs. Outside of Ellen Peterson’s cross country programs, no Badger sport has won more league titles than volleyball.
Since 2011, Minarets has made the playoffs every year, winning two section titles (2012-2013). Last year Carter’s team just missed winning their third section title, losing 3-2 to rival Sierra.
YHS swept Minarets 3-0, 25-15, 26-24, 25-22. The Mustangs never quit, as they fought back from deep deficits, especially in the third game and almost pulled off an improbable comeback.
Chenowith and Carter are total contrasts on the floor. Chenowith sits very stoically, confidently in command. Carter doesn’t sit much. She is a vocal and passionate leader.
I’m proud of both coaches and both programs - fans, parents and players you should be too. It was a great atmosphere. The Badger gym was loud with boisterous student sections. This is turning into a great rivalry with elite programs.