The Yosemite Badger Football team celebrated their season at the annual Football Banquet held on Dec. 3 at YHS.
The Badgers finished 5-6 overall and 0-4 in the North Sequoia League. YHS returned to NSL play after a two-season absence. The strength of the NSL proved to be a huge challenge for the Badgers. The Badgers were 9-4 in 2016 and 9-2 in 2017 but did not play in the tough NSL. NSL teams Chowchilla, Kerman, Liberty, and Union all made the playoffs.
Yosemite made the D-V CIF Central Section playoffs for the third straight season. The Badgers were the No. 15 seed and were defeated 57-20 at Caruthers. Yosemite was led by first-year head coach Chance Sigala.
The physical nature of NSL football took a toll. The mostly underclassmen Badgers dealt with key injuries. But the Badgers have an experienced core returning for what could be a strong 2019 season.
Senior quarterback Tyson Mansfield was named Most Valuable Player. Mansfield had a solid season on both offense and defense.
Mansfield ended his senior season 91 of 178 for 1,171 yards with 13 TDs and 11 interceptions. Mansfield rushed for 42 yards and scored three rushing touchdowns. It was Mansfield’s steady leadership that stood out.
Overall, Mansfield was 14-7 as the starting Badger QB. After being named the starter in 2017 Mansfield led YHS to eight straight wins. Mansfield was 13-1 in his first 14 starts and guided YHS to two straight playoff appearances including a 42-21 home playoff win over Immanuel last season. On defense, Mansfield led Yosemite with 56 tackles. As a punter Mansfield averaged close to 40 yards per punt. This earned Mansfield 2nd team all-NSL as a punter.
Junior running back Nicholas Harper was named the Offensive Player of the Year. If Harper never plays another down, he is in the discussion as one of the top running backs in YHS history. Harper has now rushed for 1,000-plus yards in two consecutive seasons.
This season Harper rushed for 1,192 yards on 166 carries. Harper averaged 7 yards per carry and scored 13 rushing touchdowns. Last season, Harper rushed for 1,216 yards. Harper now has 2,379 yards rushing in his career. He is 633 yards short of Quint Brown’s 3,011 career rushing yards record set in 2002. Harper also caught 14 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Senior Diego Combs was named Defensive Player of the Year. Combs had 28 tackles this season and 2 sacks. Combs was a team leader on defense and played well on special teams.
Senior Dylan Allen received the Badger Senior Leadership Award. Allen played a number of positions including kicker, running back, linebacker, and special teams.
Junior Matt Dugovic was named the Badger’s Most Improved Player. Dugovic had 48 yards rushing and a touchdown. On defense Dugovic led YHS with 2.5 sacks and had 30 tackles.
Sophomore phenom Holden Eames was named 1st team all-NSL as a wide receiver. Eames was the only Badger picked as 1st team all-league. Eames led YHS in receptions (23), receiving yards (458) and receiving touchdowns (4). Eames rushed for 57 yards and scored a touchdown.
On the other side of the ball, Eames was even more impressive. Eames picked off 6 passes and returned 4 of them for scores as a cornerback. Together with sophomore Jaydn Carter who had 4 picks, YHS had the best cover corner tandem in the NSL. Eames and Carter had 24 and 46 tackles respectively. Eames also kicked led YHS with 7 of 10 point after conversions. Eames was second on the team with 9 touchdowns overall.
Sophomore offensive lineman Noah Burns was selected 2nd team all-NSL. Sophomore O-lineman Sean Miller received an honorable mention.
The Badger JV was 3-7 overall and 1-4 in the NSL. Sophomore RB/LB Garrett McMechan was named Most Valuable Player. Freshman QB/DB Rodney Von Wagner was the Offensive Player of the Year. Sophomore Jonathan Mellon was named the Defensive Player of the Year. Freshman RB/LB Jonis Carter was the Most Improved Player.
Of a varsity squad of 24 only 7 were seniors: Dylan Allen, Diego Combs, Troy Fite, Chris Fuller, Tyson Mansfield, Ryan O’Meara, and Jeroe Solon. Combs, Fite, Mansfield, and O’Meara were starters.
Replacing Mansfield will be difficult. Carter was the backup. Carter is athletic and mobile but got zero snaps this season and has no varsity experience. The skill positions are young but they are dynamic and loaded with playmakers. Carter and Eames are shutdown corners and the core of the defense was underclassmen.
To play and win in the very physical NSL, the Badgers will have to get bigger and stronger. The young offensive and defensive line could not stay with NSL teams for an entire game. As is most of the NSL, the Badgers are a run oriented offense.
Coach Sigala’s goal is nothing short of a NSL title but judging by this season, YHS must up their physicality to compete.