Season-opening prep football games can be notorious for low scores, scattered penalties and turnovers, as offenses take the field for the first time.
Templeton High’s opener against Central Valley Christian of Visalia on Friday night was no exception, as the Eagles won 14-0.
The Eagles recovered three Cavaliers fumbles but also lost a pair of fumbles themselves. Moreover, CVC had five additional fumbles that weren’t lost.
“It happens,” Templeton senior linebacker Daulton Oropeza said of both teams’ first-game jitters. “Everybody’s nervous.”
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CVC actually outgained Templeton in total offense for the game, 155-109.
“The defense looked pretty good throughout the whole game, I thought,” said Eagles senior linebacker Tyler Gray, who had a sack. “There were a couple slipups, but that was it.”
Templeton held CVC quarterback Brandon Dykstra to 3-of-18 passing for 35 yards.
“I hope that we count on our defense,” said Oropeza, an all-Los Padres League second-team linebacker as a junior. “Our offense is strong, but I feel that we have a great defense that can stop teams.”
The Eagles did get off to a fast start offensively, however, after recovering a Cavaliers opening onside kick at the CVC 48-yard line.
Running back Kory Dearie capped a quick drive with a 24-yard run into the left-corner of the end zone with 10:19 left in the first quarter. After that, though, CVC’s defense asserted itself, coming up with three sacks before halftime.
The defensive stands went both ways, though. Templeton jump-started its offense 2:12 before the break when defensive back Brett McMickle recovered a fumble at the CVC 39-yard line.
Soon after, with 23 seconds left in the half, Gray, who also starts at running back, ran 14 yards into the end zone to provide what turned out to be the last score of the game.
“We sputtered a bit getting the kinks out,” Eagles coach Dave Harper said. “It was a good, hard-fought defensive game between the two teams.”
Templeton got a scare with 9:32 remaining when the Cavaliers recovered a fumble at the Eagles’ 29-yard line, but the Eagles didn’t give up a yard on the next four plays, taking the ball back on a turnover-on-downs.
“That was huge,” Harper said. “That was, I think, the turning point.”
Templeton proceeded to run out the clock from there.
“On the offensive side of the ball, we kind of lost a little focus there,” Gray said. “It was a typical first game, where you’ve got to get everything situated.”
Ross Berry and Cameron Silzer also had fumble recoveries in the win.
In the preseason, Templeton was ranked No. 1 in the CIF-Southern Section Northwest Division by both the sectional media poll and CalPreps.com.
“We try not to worry about that,” Oropeza said of the outside preseason hype. “We try to go week-by-week and not to think about the third game or the fourth game. We don’t really care about the polls.”
The Eagles should get even tougher tests soon. Templeton, with an enrollment of nearly 800 — will play a pair of PAC 7 neighbors roughly three times larger when it heads to Arroyo Grande on Sept. 17 and hosts Righetti on Sept. 24.
“We didn’t finish the game off very strong,” Oropeza said of Friday night. “But if we compete all week (in practice), try our hardest and not give up, we’ll have a great opportunity (to live up to their preseason billing).”