Football is alive and well in Madera County with both Liberty-Madera Ranchos and Madera High reaching the Central Section CIF championships. The D-III Coyotes of Madera, coached by former Yosemite High Badger player and coach Bonner Cunnings went on the road to defeat No. 2 seeded Mission Oak of Tulare 31-28. The No. 2 seeded Coyotes are now 9-3 and have won three straight, peaking at the right time. Madera will play the 11-1 Hanford Bullpups for the title. The Bullpups defeated Bakersfield Christian 40-21 in Hanford Nov. 28.
The Liberty Hawks continue their undefeated season by crushing Visalia’s Golden West High 30-14 at Liberty. The No. 1 seeded D-IV Hawks will host No. 2 Central Valley Christian (11-1). This promises to be one of the best finals in the Central Section. Mike Nolte’s Liberty squad is going for a CIF Central Section three-peat. Liberty was the D-V champions in 2012 and 2013. This season Liberty moved up to D-IV. Their domination continues.
Since the 2012 season Nolte’s teams are 37-3 and are riding a 17-game winning streak.
Here’s wishing Madera County CIF Central Section football titles for Christmas.
2002 Badger great Cole Popovich continues building his college coaching resume. Popovich is now the offensive line coach at Minot State University in Minot North Dakota. The Beavers of Minot State were 1-10 overall in 2014 and play in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Since graduating from Fresno State in 2008, Popovich coached at LA Valley College in Van Nuys as the team’s strength and conditioning coordinator and offensive line coach. From 2010-2012 Popovich was the offensive line coach at Fresno City.
Popovich spent the previous two seasons at Utah State University in Logan Utah as an offensive line assistant. The Aggies at Utah State have become a mid-major power in the Mountain West. Utah State has two former players, linebacker Bobby Wagner and running back Robert Turbin playing for the Seattle Seahawks. Former Aggie head coach Gary Andersen is now the head coach at Wisconsin.
Popovich is steadily moving up in the coaching world. According to the Minot State athletics website, Popovich cites his time at Fresno State for his coaching success.
“Being at Fresno State was an important step for me going into coaching because of the way Coach (Pat) Hill ran the program. I felt like I was ahead of the curve because of it. It was part of his plan to teach football and prepare players for coaching or the NFL.”
Hail to the Badgers girls cross country team for pulling off a big upset at the North Sequoia League meet. The Badger girls defeated a heavily favored Kerman Lions squad. For head coach Ellen Peterson it is another title. It has been written many times in this column, but Peterson continues to amaze. No program in Badger history has more league titles than Yosemite Cross Country. Basically, there is little wall space left in the Harry S. Baker gym where both the boys and girls programs league and section titles are painted.
No sport has more participants than Peterson’s programs. There were more than 60 runners this year, nearly 10% of Yosemite’s student population. I remember seeing the Cadet Corps at Homecoming a few weeks back. There were more Cadets (22) than varsity football players. Peterson has instilled performance and passion for her students and runners for more than 30 years. It’s almost expected that Badger cross country wins titles. It isn’t that easy but that’s what Peterson does year after year.