Both the head coaches of Minarets and Yosemite will say “it is just another game.” But we fans know better.
The Sept. 6 matchup between Minarets and Yosemite (JV 6p.m. and Varsity 7:30 p.m.) is the most anticipated game in the Mountains of Eastern Madera County.
This has become a spirited rivalry in a very short time. The teams have only played each other three times. The Badgers are 3-0 against the Mustangs. YHS defeated MHS 50-0 in 2016, 27-14 in 2017, and 38-10 last year at Minarets.
For so many years YHS fans would look to the Mountain Bowl between Sierra and Yosemite as the ‘game of the year’. Those days have passed. With the inception of Minarets High School, it makes sense that this game above all others is the one to see.
There is a lot of emotion between fans and players of both teams. Both fan bases are very passionate. The players know each other well from their days in youth football. Transfers between schools also occur. The coaches also know one another. A number of the Minarets coaches were either players at YHS or former Badger coaches.
That’s what makes this so fun.
Mustang Head Coach Becher Marr led his team to the playoffs last season for the first time in school history and is building a strong foundation for the future. The Mustangs are in the process of building a football stadium. Marr played on the Badgers first championship team in 2002. The Marr family grew up wearing Badger Blue. Winning was a way of life.
On the other side, second year Badger Head Coach Chance Sigala is also trying to build a tradition. The former Clovis High star lineman led YHS to a playoff appearance in his first season at the helm. Sigala was mentored by Tim Simon at Clovis High (a former Pat Hill assistant) and in college by Hall of Fame coach Chris Ault of Nevada-Reno. Both coaches are putting their positive individual stamps on each program.
Both teams are undefeated in 2019. Minarets (1-0), is coming off a tough 41-25 win at Mariposa last week. YHS is 2-0 with wins over Riverdale (31-6) and Parlier (31-9).
There is a healthy respect from both coaches.
“The Mariposa game was a great test for heading into this game,” Marr said. “Yosemite moves the ball really well. They have some really good athletes. We will have to limit our mistakes and play really good football. Mistakes really cost us last year against YHS. We just want to come out and play good physical and mistake free football.”
“Minarets’ is a fast paced team that likes to air out the football,” Sigala said. “We are going to have to have a great and solid week of practice in order to have a good game. We need to be fast and physical and keep mistakes to a minimum. Anything can happen. It’s a great rivalry game that the kids really buy into.”
Minarets will air it out. This is a fun offense to watch. Marr will tell you that the offensive line is the team strength. Mariposa can score through the air or on the ground. Quarterback Martin Urroz shattered all Mustang passing records last year. His receiving corps of Colby Moss and TJ Garner are both talented and athletic. Garner also had 170 return yards against Mariposa and a TD. He is also a great defender. Noah Segura rushed for 108 yards against Mariposa and is the primary back.
The Mustangs are also an experienced playoff team. They outscored Mariposa 20-0 in the fourth quarter at the Mariposa Fairgrounds. That says a lot about the Mustang defense. Last year some games got away from Minarets. This year feels different.
YHS counters with a strong run game led by senior running back Nicholas Harper. Harper is closing in on the all-time Badger rushing record set by Quint Brown in 2002. The offensive line is solid and getting better each week. First year varsity starting QB Jaydn Carter is one of the best athletes on the team but is inexperienced. The Badger defense has limited opponents to only 15 points this season. YHS shut out Parlier last week in the second half.
The Badgers have an outstanding defensive backfield that is difficult to throw against. Holden Eames is perhaps the best overall YHS athlete. He is a threat to score any time he touches the ball. YHS is also a playoff team and will have the advantage of the home crowd.
This game will be much closer than last year! Get to Badger Stadium early. It will be a packed house.