Last Friday, the Badgers traveled to face an always tough Kerman Lion football team.
Along with a long road trip, YHS had to contend with a packed house with an always fun and boisterous Kerman crowd at homecoming. Like the homecoming game at McLane, it was a playoff-type atmosphere.
Last week the Badgers were ranked No. 1 in the Central Section Division V rankings, according to MaxPreps.com. YHS also notched their first win against Liberty in more than a decade.
None of this went to the heads of the Badger players as YHS defeated Kerman 36-14. YHS is now 7-0 overall and 2-0 in the NSL.
Second-year Badger head coach Chance Sigala knew to compete for an NSL title meant the Badgers would have to get stronger and faster. The summer conditioning program at YHS did just that. YHS has been the more physical team so far this season in both NSL contests.
“This was another big win for this program,” Sigala said. “We are really trying to build something special up here. We are earning the respect of our opponents. This was a great challenge. It was also a stepping stone for the program winning a tough game on the road. Kerman had an incredible crowd for their homecoming.”
Yosemite took over early and never looked back. After a scoreless first quarter, the Badgers scored 29 unanswered points. It’s not what typically happens against Kerman (3-5, 1-1).
“We trained hard all week,” Sigala said. “We wanted to slow down their offense as well as dictate the pace with our offense.”
It wasn’t easy even though the score seemed lopsided.
“Kerman had a very physical defensive front that gave us trouble at first,” Sigala said. “We were able to make some key adjustments. We re-established our running game. We also did a great job of keeping their quarterback (Gavin Layton) inside the tackles. That was important as he is amazing with his feet.”
The Badgers won despite the Lion rushing attack that accumulated 250 yards against the stout YHS defense.
Senior running back Nicholas Harper had another outstanding night on offense. Harper scored three rushing touchdowns. His first was a 90-yard run in the second quarter to get the Badger offense rolling. Harper scored from 10-yards out at the end of the second quarter and YHS held a 14-0 lead at halftime.
Harper got his third TD in the third quarter on a 4-yard run. Holden Eames scored on an 8-yard pass from quarterback Jaydn Carter and the Badgers led 26-0 after three quarters.
YHS kicker Zachary Palmer connected on a 38-yard field goal to start the fourth quarter scoring. It is another long kick from Palmer who has also hit on a 40-yarder a few weeks ago.
Kerman answered with two fourth-quarter touchdowns from Matt Gonzales. It was too little, too late.
YHS running back Ernie Jimenez sealed the win with a 10-yard touchdown run and YHS had their second-straight NSL win.
On defense, Holden Eames intercepted another pass, his seventh of the season. Eames has run three of those back for scores.
Sigala had high praise for some of his defenders. “Caleb Burke, Kevin Welborn, and Matt Dugovic all had an outstanding game on defense,” Sigala said. “I was also pleased with the play of our offensive line.”
The Badgers are missing two key starters, Sean Miller and Joey Star, who suffered season-ending injuries. Despite the losses, the Badger run game with Harper and Jimenez was in high-gear.
Joeoanh Acosta led Kerman with 150 yards rushing averaging 9.4 yards per carry.
YHS stats were not available at press time.
YHS vs. Chowchilla-Homecoming
The Badgers finally get to play at home after a grueling three-game road trip. YHS hosts the always tough Tribe of Chowchilla on Friday, Oct. 18 at Badger Stadium. Game time: JV 5pm/Varsity 7pm.
“I’m excited to be back at home for Chowchilla after being on the road for three games,” Sigala said. “It’s our homecoming. We will have to have a great week of practice while limiting the outside distractions that come with Homecoming.”
Chowchilla (3-5, 0-2) is having a challenging season in 2019. Two losses are due to tough, pre-NSL opponents. Chowchilla lost to Kerman 35-28 and Washington Union 47-27 .
Chowchilla has a proud football tradition. The Tribe is ranked No. 10 in Division IV, according to MaxPreps.
Chowchilla is a perennial playoff team coming off a 7-4 season last year.
The Tribe defeated YHS 45-21 at Chowchilla in 2018. Chowchilla has made the playoffs in six straight seasons and won the D-IV title in 2015.
CHS averages 221 yards rushing and only 57 passing. The Tribe is led by junior quarterback Tony Woolsey, who is 17 of 38 for 266 yards with 3 TDs and 4 INTs. Woolsey has run for 156 yards with 2 TDs.
The vaunted Chowchilla ground game employs several different ball carriers. Senior Jaylinn Gaines leads Chowchilla with 482 yards and 6 touchdowns. Jason Pope (307 yards, 3 TDs) and Darian Lopez (304 yards, 4 TDs) will also contribute.
Overall, six Tribe runners have more than 100 yards this season.
“Chowchilla is going to be a big tough physical game for us,” Sigala said. “Chowchilla likes to run the ball and they do it well. They are physical. We have to be ready for a battle in the trenches. For us, it’s another great opportunity for these student-athletes to play football and show our community what all their hard work has accomplished.”