Game history

Battle for the Saddle: A Game Story


The 17th annual Battle for the Saddle high school football game between Golden West (2-7, 0-3) and El Diamante (3-6, 1-3) was canceled Tuesday due to COVID-19 concerns.

The Saddle game was not played during the 2020-21 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Miners lead the all-time series 10-6.

Here is a history of the game Saddle:


Golden West 10, El Diamante 7: Trailblazers junior Kyle Seargeant caught an 82-yard touchdown pass and intercepted a defensive pass midway through the fourth quarter in Game 1 Battle for the Saddle. Additionally, team kicker Seargeant sealed the win for Golden West when he connected on a 31-yard field goal. He finished with 131 receiving yards – all in the second half.


El Diamante 27, Golden West 0: Playing with their first senior class, the minors won the Saddle game for the first time in school history. El Diamante’s Wayne Jones (one-yard run), Delano Henry (30-yard catch), Danny Moore (nine-yard run) and Ben Walkowiak (19-yard receive) all scored a touchdown in the win. The rivalry win also capped the program’s first outright West Yosemite League championship.


El Diamante 24, Golden West 13: Miners became the first school to retain the saddle, winning the rivalry’s annual showdown. El Diamante’s Delano Henry scored two touchdowns in the third quarter, finding the end zone on a 47-yard pass from quarterback Tanner Sneed and an 11-yard run. Henry finished with three catches for 83 yards and also rushed for 29 yards.


El Diamante 55, Golden West 0: The late Earl Rhodes rushed for 118 yards, and five touchdowns and quarterback Tanner Sneed completed 6 of 8 passes for 101 yards and two scores as El Diamante scored on eight of 10 possessions. West Yosemite League champion Miners won their first title in the Central Section, beating Tulare Union 63-14 in the Division II Championship game.


El Diamante 53, Golden West 34: The Miners won their fourth straight game from Saddle. El Diamante running backs Stefphon Jefferson and Brad Bullock had 458 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Bullock burst for 268 rushing yards and six touchdowns on just 12 carries. Jefferson finished with 190 rushing yards and scored on a 72-yard touchdown. The rivalry victory clinched El Diamante’s second consecutive WYL Championship.


El Diamante 62, Golden West 7: Aaron Sing scored four total touchdowns (32-yard catch, nine-yard run, one-yard dive, five-yard getaway) as the Miners outscored a winless Trailblazers team for the fifth straight season. Sing finished with 125 rushing yards and 44 receiving yards on three receptions. Saddle’s win capped a perfect 6-0 run in WYL play as the Miners claimed another absolute league championship for the third consecutive year.


El Diamante 55, Golden West 0: The Miners scored 50 or more points for the fourth time in as many Saddle games. Leading running back Aaron Sing scored three touchdowns, crossing the goal line on a pair of four-yard runs and a five-yard dart. Sing rushed for 235 yards in the win to help El Diamante claim their fourth consecutive WYL crown. Miners quarterback Brandon Jefferies threw two touchdown passes and finished with 207 passing yards.


Golden West 20, El Diamante 14: The Trailblazers ended a six-game losing streak with Saddle, winning the eighth annual rivalry game with Saddle. Golden West’s Brophy Hiatt scored on a one-yard touchdown run, and Austin Garcia found the end zone 13 yards out in the win. Trailblazers kicker Gonzalo Hernandez scored two second-half field goals, connecting from 30 yards in the third quarter and 42 yards in the fourth. The Trailblazers rushed for 324 yards in the win, receiving 200 rushing yards from Devon Gomez.


El Diamante 61, Golden West 16: The Miners got the saddle back as running back DeAngelo Torres scored five rushing touchdowns, including one on an 80-yard run. Torres escaped for 226 rushing yards on just 15 carries. El Diamante led 40-0 behind Torres’ four touchdowns in the first half. The rivalry victory helped the Miners clinch a share of the WYL Championship.


El Diamante 42, Golden West 8: The Miners concluded the regular season by winning an absolute WYL championship. El Diamante running back Alex Schapansky scored three rushing touchdowns, and quarterback JC Robles also found the end zone twice through the ground. The Miners won their second Central Section Division II championship in the playoffs, beating Bakersfield’s Garces 28-14 in the title game. Robles then played at Colorado State.


Golden West 33, El Diamante 13: In Saddle’s 11th annual game, the Trailblazers ran for nearly 500 yards of total offense, rushing for 339 yards. Golden West wide receiver Sheldon White scored two touchdowns, catching a 34-yard reception and finding the end zone on a 10-yard run. Running back Cristian Canales led the Trailblazers with 131 rushing yards. The win clinched a Visalia City Championship for the Trailblazers.


El Diamante 28, Golden West 10: Minors running back Keylan Liles rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns to help El Diamante get the saddle back. El Diamante’s Kamarea Stephens and Mason Garispe each scored a touchdown reception on quarterback Joey Vink. The Miners won their ninth Saddle game in the series.


Golden West 22, El Diamante 14: The Trailblazers’ Wing-T offense rushed for 308 yards. Golden West guard Gonzalo Rodriguez rushed for 125 yards and three touchdowns, scoring on a five-yard run, a one-yard run and an eight-yard dash. El Diamante led 7-0 after the first quarter, but Rodriguez scored three unanswered touchdowns as the Trailblazers took a 22-7 lead in the fourth quarter.


El Diamante 23, Golden West 20: Converted soccer player Alex Saldana hit the game-winning field goal with 6 seconds left in regulation, connecting from 21 yards to help the Miners clinch an outright WYL Championship. El Diamante running back Devontae Freeman led the team with 113 rushing yards and a touchdown. Golden West quarterback Payton Allen threw two touchdown passes. Despite the loss, the Trailblazers won the Division IV Central Section Championship and also became the first team in Visalia City history to play for a CIF state title.


Golden West 28, El Diamante 17: Sophomore Lonnie Wessel exploded for 227 rushing yards and three touchdowns to help the Trailblazers win back the Saddle. Wessel led a rushing Golden West offense that generated nearly 400 rushing yards. On defense, Wessel also led the team with 12 tackles. The Trailblazers would play for a Central Section Division IV title, but fell to Central Valley Christian 49-19 in the championship showdown.


Golden West 48, El Diamante 7: The Wessel twins, Lonnie and Michael, led a Trailblazers Wing-T offense that ended with 335 rushing yards. Lonnie Wessel rushed for 148 yards and three touchdowns, and his brother, Michael, scored two touchdowns while finishing with 74 rushing yards. It was the first time in series history that Golden West had won consecutive Saddle matches.


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Vongni Yang is a sports reporter for the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register. It covers Tulare County sports. Follow him on Twitter @Vongni. To support its continued coverage of local sports, subscribe today.

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