The Yosemite High Badgers recorded their second straight shutout defeating the Mariposa Grizzlies 30-0 on Friday the 13th at Badger Stadium.
The Badger defense has not allowed a score in 10-straight quarters — since the second half of the Aug. 30 game at Parlier. Mariposa moves to 1-2 for the year.
The Grizzlies had opportunities to score. In the end, the stingy Badger defense would not yield and found a way to keep Mariposa out of the end zone. On offense, it was the Badger ground game that kept moving the chains. Senior Nicholas Harper had his best night of the year rushing for 168 yards and scoring three touchdowns. The Badgers amassed 278 yards rushing averaging 7.5 yards per carry.
Badger Head Coach Chance Sigala was pleased with the team’s effort.
“Our defense is the heart and backbone of our team,” Sigala said. “They are well-coached and play 100 miles an hour! The key to their success is always being aggressive and to pressure their quarterback. We did that well.”
Despite the shut out, this was not an easy win for YHS.
“Mariposa did a lot to confuse us in the first half,” Sigala said. “They had a great game plan for us. We were finally able to make some adjustments on offense and got things moving.”
It was an action-packed first quarter. After the first Grizzly possession, a short punt gave YHS the ball at the Mariposa 32. The Badgers would take advantage of a short field. Harper ran for 28 yards to the 4 and scored on the next play.
Another special-teams gaffe hurt the Grizzlies. After Mariposa drove to the Badger 42, YHS LB Gabe Swigart sacked Mariposa QB Wyatt Green for a huge loss. Mariposa was forced to punt from their 40. The snap sailed high over punter Christian Stockwell. Swigart ran it down and recovered at the Mariposa 6. On the next play, Badger QB Jaydn Carter hit Kevin Welborn in the back of the end zone.
The Grizzlies were set up at the YHS 37 after a 42-yard kickoff return by Logan Donati who nearly took it to the house. The YHS defense stepped up again. This time it was YHS DB Steven Baker who made an athletic interception. The Badgers went into halftime up 14-0.
The Badgers put the game away in the third quarter. It was Harper once again. The senior burst through the right side and outran the Grizzly defenders for a 78-yard touchdown. Harper’s success came at a price as the always hard-hitting Mariposa defense went to a 5-man front. Harper showed his speed on break-away runs. A Zach Palmer point-after gave YHS a 21-0 lead.
Green led Mariposa on solid throws to JC Davies and runs by Ivan Morales. Mariposa drove to the YHS 14. Again, the Badger defense held. This time it was Badger DT Noah Burns who sacked Green on a 4th and 10. Mariposa would not get that close again.
Early in the fourth, the YHS offense went to the air. Carter hit Dimitri Wassem for 15 yards down to the Grizzly 26. The drive stalled but the Badgers called on Palmer to try a 40-yard field goal. Palmer was true. It was one of the longest field goals in YHS history. The YHS record is 45 yards by Sean Jamison in 1995.
The Grizzlies looked like they had a touchdown on their next possession but a 36-yard pass from Green to Morales was called back due to a holding penalty. It was that kind of night for Mariposa.
The Badgers closed out the scoring with a 12-yard touchdown run by Harper. This was set up by a 41-yard run by Ernie Jimenez.
The defense ended the game with a strip by Matt Dugovic and recovered by Jimenez.
Passing: Carter 5-9 30 yards 1 TD.
Rushing: Harper 19-168 (8.8 yards per carry) 3 TD’s; Jimenez 6-59 (9.8 yards per carry)
Receiving: Wassem 1-15; Welborn 2-9 1 TD; Holden Eames 2-6.
The Badgers travel to McLane
Next up for the Badgers is a road trip to McLane High in Fresno. Game time is 7 p.m. Varsity and 5 p.m. JV at McLane Stadium in Fresno.
This is another budding rivalry. Several coaches, including former YHS head coach JD Burnett, are on staff at McLane. For the YHS seniors and the Highlander players, this is also an emotional game.
Burnett has turned around the McLane program just like he did at YHS. Burnett took over a program that was 0-10 in 2017. One year later Burnett had the Highlanders in the D-V playoffs with a 6-5 overall record. This year, Bonner Cunnings, a Badger Wall of Famer and coach of two high school playoff teams, takes the reins from Burnett who moved to athletic director. Cunnings inherits a talented and athletic team that is still learning how to win. It is part of a long term plan by Burnett to rebuild a once-storied McLane football program.
The Highlanders are 2-1 in 2019. McLane is coming off a hard-fought 48-42 home win over the always tough Mendota Aztecs. The Badgers defeated YHS 42-13 in Oakhurst last season.
There is a lot of respect from Sigala and the YHS coaching staff for the McLane program. “McLane is going to be a really good test for us before we go into conference play,” Sigala said. “They have some size and good quality skill position players. We need to have a solid game plan and a great week of practice for us to get a win this week. The players are motivated to turn things around from last year’s game.”