For those who made the long trip to Bishop, and there were quite a few, it was so worth it. The sights of Yosemite and Tioga Pass made for a beautiful drive. Getting to Highway 395 was great, and on the way I summoned my inner Tony Krizan and hiked the Mono Pass Trail - great for the soul.
I never tire of seeing Mono Lake and driving through Mammoth on the way to beautiful Bishop. Highway 1 is voted most beautiful, but I would differ. There is nothing like driving in the Eastern Sierra.
The view from the stands at Bishop’s John Schwab Field was incredible. We are spoiled with our view of Deadwood at Badger Stadium, but from the visitor side at Bishop you see Basin Mountain (13,187) and Mt. Tom (13,652 elevation). To the east are the White Mountains with White Mountain Peak at 14,265 feet, the third tallest mountain in California. Along with a multi-colored sunset, a full stadium, and the Bronco Homecoming crowd, the stage was set for a great game.
But the most memorable moment was ‘The Drive’ - a last chance, 96-yard drive engineered by quarterback Tyson Mansfield. Cannon Eames and Nic Harper got the big plays, but Mansfield led the team. It wasn’t Mansfield’s best game, but the junior shined in the moment. It was a coming of age to someone who hasn’t been playing quarterback that long.
I have been a part of Badger football since 2001. To me this was the greatest drive for a win I have ever seen. It was against all odds. The offense sputtered the whole night. The team endured a 5-plus hour bus ride just to get to the game. Bronco fans were loud, and Bishop wanted revenge for last year’s 28-21 loss in Oakhurst. It was a playoff-type atmosphere.
The Drive doesn’t happen without Cannon Eames’s spectacular 90-yard kickoff return that put YHS in a position to win. Eames is having a great season. He is coming off a historic 34-point performance against Mariposa where he scored as a receiver, defensive back, and kicker.
Sophomore Nicholas Harper is now the main threat in the backfield. Harper shined last season leading the JV team in rushing. He is on another level now. Like many other Badgers, the summer in the weight room has paid off. Harper gets tough yards inside and if he gets outside look out. Harper has averaged 158 yards in his last two games, and his 153 against Bishop was done with position changes in the offensive line.
This wasn’t a great win, but it is the kind of contest the Badgers needed to get geared up for the upcoming D-V playoffs. There is still a lot of football to be played. “You never know but we may see Bishop again in playoffs,” Head Coach JD Burnett said. “They are a good team.”
YHS can’t let down, and coach Burnett and staff won’t let that happen as they are looking to host a home playoff game.
Currently YHS is ranked No. 2 in D-V according to Maxpreps.com. The win against the Broncos will go a long way to securing a home playoff berth, something not seen at Badger Stadium since 2010.
According to Burnett, Bishop won’t be on our schedule next year. That’s too bad. I know it is a long drive but the Bishop/YHS game has also become a solid contest between two now perennial playoff programs.