Gregg Dodderidge

Incredible Badger turnaround

BY GREGG DODDERIDGE

I know we are just getting started with basketball season but with all the bowl games, I just can’t put football out of my mind. Some final thoughts about the recently concluded Yosemite season - its first after withdrawing from the North Sequoia League and playing as an independent.

Badger Head Coach JD Burnett should absolutely be considered for CIF Central Section coach of the year. This one is a no-brainer for me. I hope it is for the decision makers too. Yes, there is Coach Jeremy Blackwell at Strathmore (14-1) and Beto Mejia at Mendota (13-1). They had amazing seasons, but none came with the degree of difficulty that Burnett inherited when he took over this program with under 30 players.

He guided the Badgers to a 9-4 season with two D-V playoff wins, after a 0-9 season the year before. It’s an incredible turnaround - certainly the biggest in YHS history. Burnett and a solid coaching staff got the team to buy in after last season. After losing 27 in a row, this team believed they could win every game. It started last summer and carried over into the season. It has to be one of the great season turnarounds in Central Section history.

To the players: you were part of one of the best teams in YHS history. No, you didn’t win titles like the Aaron Eames coached D-III teams of 2002 and 2004 but you did a lot. Back in the day YHS had 1,300 students and was one of the best teams in D-III. YHS is now at 700 students and you are one of the top teams in D-V. It’s all relative. You won two playoff games on the road including a 29-14 road win against No. 2 seed Dos Palos.

You broke seven school records. Winning 9 games was 5th all-time in the 40-year history of the school and you shut out five teams including a 36-0 playoff win on the road at Lindsay.

To the offensive line: You had two running backs rush for more than 1,000 yards each - amassing a team rushing record of 3,040 yards and only allowed three sacks all year. I have had the privilege of covering this team since 2001. Trust me guys, this was amazing. I hope you remember this season for the rest of your lives.

Finally to Johnny Varian: you had one of the great rushing seasons of all-time (1,147 yards) and you were a huge part of the team’s success. Always hold on to that.

State championships

With an expanded format of 13 divisional games, the California state football championships concluded last weekend.

It was NorCal vs. SoCal. Overall, Southern California teams were winners in eight of the 13 contests. Of the 26 teams that participated, 13 were private schools. Of those, seven were champions. 2016 Badger foe Amador, who defeated YHS 35-7 on Oct. 28, lost to Rancho Christian of Temecula 38-13.

Good season for Lee at Cal Poly

Remember former Badger standout Jayson Lee? He moved in his junior season to play at Clovis North under head coach and former Pat Hill assistant Tim Simons.

During his senior season at Clovis North Lee rushed for 1,600 yards and 23 touchdowns and made 81 tackles, including six sacks, helping the Broncos to a 7-5 overall mark and a semifinal round berth in the CIF-Central Section D-II playoffs, earning him a spot on the Fresno Bee’s Fab 50 Football All-Star Team. he was also named Tri-River Athletic Conference co-defensive player of the year.

Lee accepted a scholarship to play at Cal Poly, San Luis Opispo. During his freshman season Lee playing linebacker recorded 22 sacks while playing in seven games for the 7-5 Mustangs. The son of James and Sheri Lee, Jayson is studying to be an electrical engineer.

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