Sparks, which suited up just 20 players Friday, came up on the short end of a 27-14 score in a 3A North League loss at Fernley (4-4, 4-1).
"I'm real proud of our effort tonight," Kittrell said. "Our starting tackle went down. I think we're down to our fifth-string offensive tackle. We were using defensive backs at defensive tackle because of injuries. Our effort was very good. It just was not quite enough to get the breaks tonight."
Sparks falls to 4-4 overall and 3-2 in 3A North affairs. Despite the defeat, the Railroaders, who host league-leader and perennial 3A state power Truckee Friday afternoon, still remain in playoff contention.
Angel Guillen's 1-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter trimmed Fernley's lead to 13-7.
Unfortunately for Sparks fans, Fernley answered back with a score of its own to go up 21-7. The Railroaders tried to cut into the Vaqueros' lead before halftime. Sparks drove to the FHS 4-yard line, but the local school's drive stalled as time expired on the first half.
A Fernley touchdown early in the third quarter pushed the hosts' advantage to 27-7, but Sparks did not run away and hide. The Railroaders got an 88-yard interception return for a touchdown by Prince Hall with just over two minutes showing on the third-quarter clock, accounting for the final margin.
Neither team scored in the fourth quarter.
"We had a couple breaks go against us, but we felt like we were in it the whole time," Kittrell said. "We had a chance to really get back in it and make it a tight game. It was a tough loss."
Hall had 11 carries for 73 yards for Sparks in defeat. SHS junior signal caller Guillen completed 5-of-9 passes for 84 yards.