JC football: Fresno City seeks consistency in Valley Conference opener

Fresno City College running back Nate Jones tries to follow his blocks into a gain against Reedley in the second half of the teams’ game on Oct. 3, 2015.
Fresno City College running back Nate Jones tries to follow his blocks into a gain against Reedley in the second half of the teams’ game on Oct. 3, 2015.

Inconsistency has been a problem for the Fresno City College football team, which passes the halfway point of the regular season with the beginning of Valley Conference play Saturday.

The Rams started 2-0, then dropped the next two as miscues piled up and the defense surrendered too many big plays.

Fresno City (3-2), ranked eighth in Northern California, did respond before its bye in beating Reedley 24-21 on Oct. 3. But even there, the 24 points were a season low for a team that entered that game averaging 33.5 per game.

Now the Rams face a Laney team that is No. 10 in the region and a year ago – after six straight losses in the series – rolled Fresno City 41-7 in Oakland. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. Saturday at Ratcliffe Stadium.

“Going into conference, the intensity level kicks in,” Fresno City coach Tony Caviglia said. “Everybody wants to win the conference. You want to get off to a good start, and I think (in Laney) we’re playing one of the best teams in the conference.”

Despite their two losses, the Rams’ main goals remain alive. The conference champion gets an automatic berth to the four-team NorCal playoffs. The Bay 6 and NorCal champions also qualify, along with a wild-card team.

Cavigilia said his team needs to play smart and understand and execute assignments. It is there in practice but not always in games.

“Big thing is this team has done a great job in preparing,” Caviglia said. “They’re doing everything we’re asking them. Now we’ve got to put it on the field on game day, and we have to do the things during the game that will help us be successful. Many times this year, we’re making things harder than it has to be.”

Caviglia said some of those “missed assignments” have put the team in tough down-and-distance situations.

“Suddenly you’re second-and-15 … a penalty in the kicking game, whereas you had good field position and you move it back,” he said. “Just certain things during the course of the game – one or two guys makes a mistake, and it makes it harder on us. Hard to call plays when you’re third-and-15 or second-and-12. On defense, a missed assignment and a blown coverage … just one guy makes a mistake, and the (opposition) hits you on it.

“It’s hard to overcome that. We just have to be smarter. Our effort and attitude is great. We’re a talented football team, but you have to take it from the practice field to the game.”

Defensive back Tajhe Moore – who has 14 tackles, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup this season – said preparation during the bye week is key.

“We just need to come together as a unit,” Moore said. “Start playing together as a team. Coming off the bye week, we have to be more physical and just stay focused. Trust our coaches and trust what we were taught during the bye week, and if we do that, we’ll peak and show up for the game.”

Caviglia likes the makeup of his team and now hopes it starts showing how good it can be.

“This team has a chance to be really good,” he said. “We’re very young … a lot of freshmen and a lot of new players. We’re talented and deep and have to play a good brand of football.”

▪ Fresno City leads the all-time series 11-4. The teams first met in 1972, when Fresno City outlasted the Eagles 26-7.

Et cetera – Sequoias (4-1), ranked sixth in NorCal, opens Valley Conference play at No. 4 Modesto (3-2) at 6 p.m. Saturday. The Giants are coming off a 44-0 loss to Santa Rosa.

▪ Reedley and West Hills are undefeated in the Golden Coast Conference entering a 6 p.m. showdown at Reedley High. The Tigers are 3-2 and 1-0. The Falcons (4-1, 2-0) routed Gavilan 61-13 in their last game.

Anthony Galaviz: 559-441-6042, @agalaviz_TheBee

JC football

This week’s games

(All at 6 p.m. Saturday)

  • Laney (3-2, 0-0 Valley Conference) at Fresno City (3-2, 0-0)
  • Sequoias (4-1, 0-0) at Modesto (3-2, 0-0)
  • West Hills (4-1, 2-0 Golden Coast) at Reedley (3-2, 1-0)





Sept. 5

at De Anza

W, 30-20

Sept. 12

vs. Sierra

W, 42-41 (OT)

Sept. 19

vs. San Francisco

L, 39-34

Sept. 26

vs. Butte

L, 31-28

Oct. 3

at Reedley

W, 24-21

Oct. 17

vs. Laney

6 p.m.

Oct. 24

at Chabot

6:30 p.m.

Oct. 31

vs. San Joaquin Delta

1 p.m.

Nov. 7

at Modesto

1 p.m.

Nov. 14

vs. Sequoias

1 p.m.