With more than 10 sophomores on the roster, the Firebaugh Eagle varsity football team has a steep learning curve to contend with for the inexperienced athletes.

And while first-year head coach Jorge Saldana says his squad continues to improve, it has yet to show in the win column.

Firebaugh hosted Templeton from the Central Coast last Friday and the Eagles came up on the short end of a 13-7 score which dropped their season record to 0-4.

Templeton clinched the game with two field goals from Landon Miller, the second one from 32 yards out.

The game was mainly a defensive struggle, as both teams had trouble moving the ball.  Firebaugh’s defense, led by Arren Alaniz, Isaac Ceja, and Anthony Fernandez, held Templeton to 157 yards in total offense. The Eagles also came up with two interceptions and one fumble recovery to stop Templeton drives.

But the Eagle offense again had trouble scoring.

After Templeton took an early 7-0 lead on a 27-yard run, they added to their lead just before halftime on Miller’s first field goal.

Firebaugh finally got on the board in the third quarter when quarterback Manuel Bautista hit Isaiah Leyva with a 46-yard touchdown pass.  Miller’s second field goal added to Templeton’s lead.

Firebaugh had a few opportunities to tie the score but could not convert on fourth down to keep its drives going.

The Eagles kept the ball on the ground most of the night.  Fernandez was the workhorse, gaining 127 of Firebaugh’s 165 yards rushing.

“The team is improving by learning to play with each other and gaining experience,” said Coach Saldana.  “Having six sophomore starters and one freshman starter, they are adjusting to the speed of varsity football with continued reps.”

The Eagles will host Immanuel—Reedley this Friday evening in their final pre-season game before West Sierra League play begins.

David Borboa