A Win Sure Feels Good

After starting the 2013 season with two tough losses, the Los Gatos Football players and coaches got a taste of victory on Friday, 9/20 at San Benito High School. While a loss is never a good thing, there are different kinds of losses and lessons to be learned just the same. In our opener against Mitty, the Cats played a really good first half and led on the scoreboard by a score of 14-12. Mitty was the better team in the second half and went on to victory by a final score of 28-14. Certainly there were first game lessons to be learned with this game, like playing four full quarters, third down defense, and sustaining drives on offense. All in all, it was a loss against a perennial playoff team that will contend for a league title. Not a good feeling, but an acceptable feeling…

Week two was also a loss. This loss was to Menlo Athterton, another good team that will be a playoff team. However, the loss against M-A felt completely different from game one. This game included 4 turnovers by the offense, with two occurring in the red zone. After the 19-10 loss, there was shock and terrible disappointment by the coaches and players alike. There were lessons to be learned with this game as well. The lessons of finishing plays, drives, quarters, games, etc.

To their credit, The Cats had a great week of practice preparing for a good San Benito team. While the game was not perfect, the intensity of play and the effort of the players were to be commended. In the end, the defense played much better, the offense scored three touchdowns, and Corey Olivet’s 98-yard kickoff return sealed the victory for the Cats! The final score was 28-14 Cats. Lessons to be learned, and plays to be cleaned up, but all in all, the win felt good!

Next up for the Cats is Friday, October 4th in the De Anza league opener. The game will be played at home. It is breast Cancer Awareness month, and the Cats will be honoring Chris Brienzo, long time Cat parent and supporter.

Cats, Krail in Win Column

Before going out to cover Saturday night’s Mitty-Palo Alto game, I talked to Los Gatos coach Mark Krail. The Wildcats were coming off two consecutive losses to start the Krail era and had to travel Friday to face a San Benito team that had lost at Palo Alto a week earlier. The night didn’t start off well for the ‘Cats.

The team bus showed up late at Los Gatos and then the driver got lost twice while trying to get the team to San Benito for the 7:30 p.m. kickoff. The team finally arrived about a quarter to 7, just enough time to loosen up the legs. Los Gatos didn’t score in the first quarter but reached the end zone three times in the second on its way to a 28-14 win. “It was good,” Krail said Saturday. “The kids played well.” Los Gatos had lost its previous game, to Menlo Atherton, after leading going to the fourth quarter. “They felt horrible,” Krail said of his players. “They felt it was a game we could have won. Not should have won, but could have won.”

The players returned to practice last week ready to go. They’re a resilient group,” Krail said. “They’re into their football.” If Los Gatos had lost to San Benito, it would have opened De Anza Division on Oct. 4 against Krail’s former team, Santa Clara, still searching for its first win. “You certainly don’t envision 0-3,” Krail said. “But when you’re 0-2, you never know.” Joey Wood rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown against San Benito, and Bailey McNally had 11 tackles.

By Darren Sabedra – San Jose Mercury News

Los Gatos stunned, falls to 0-2

As I closely monitored the high school scores on Twitter while covering Palo Alto’s win over San Benito on Friday night, there didn’t seem to be many surprises. Bellarmine was winning. So was Mitty. St. Francis was shutting out yet another opponent. And Milpitas was cruising, too. No, I didn’t hear about the surprise of the night until I got back to the office. Before I grabbed the seat at my desk, someone blurted: “Krail is 0-2.”

Mark Krail is a good coach. His track record at Pioneer at Santa Clara speaks for itself, and his teams will win at Los Gatos, just as Butch Cattolico’s teams won for years and years. But I certainly didn’t expect the Wildcats to lose at home Friday to Menlo-Atherton, which opened the season with a 17-point loss to Campolindo and lost to Los Gatos 42-6 last season, the final one of Cattolico’s storied coaching career.

Los Gatos dropped its season opener, too, to Mitty, by two touchdowns. But it led Mitty at halftime and didn’t play poorly, except for the third quarter. Friday, the fourth quarter did in the ‘Cats. Leading 10-7 through three, Los Gatos watched Isiah Nash score on runs of 50 and 41 yards to lead Menlo-Atherton to a 19-10 win. The big play is something Los Gatos hasn’t yet stopped. A week earlier, Mitty’s Dakari Monroe scored on touchdown runs of 87 and 51 yards against the Wildcats. So … when will Los Gatos get a win for its new coach?

The Wildcats travel next week to San Benito, which lost to Palo Alto 28-7 on Friday but showed flashes of a running attack, which might not bode well for Los Gatos. If the ‘Cats lose that one, their next game is at home, Oct.4, against Santa Clara, Krail’s former team. Santa Clara won Friday over Independence.

I’m guessing Krail would prefer to get that first win next week and not against his former players. On the bright side for Krail and the ‘Cats, Mike Mitchell started 0-6 at St. Francis in the mid-1990s when he replaced the legendary Ron Calcagno. How did that turn out? The Lancers won their final seven games to win the CCS championship.

By Darren Sabedra – San Jose Mercury News

2013 Off and Running

The 2013 Season is Off and Running. September 6th marked the kick-off of the 2013 season. In the end, the Mitty Monarchs got the best of the Cats on the scoreboard by a score of 28-14. That being said, there were many positives to be taken from this competitive, physical game. Mitty is a highly ranked talented team that will definitely make the playoffs at the end of the season.

Of the 22 starters on offense and defense, 17 Cat players were getting their first extensive varsity playing time. There will be some “growing pains” with this group, but it’s a hardworking, dedicated team that will continue to improve each and every week.

Some of the defensive leaders on Friday were Bailey McNally who lead the team with 8 tackles. Matt Wilcox and Jack Tittlewere next with 7 and 6 tackles respectively. Wilcox also added an interception, as did Corey Olivet.

On the offensive side of the ball, it was Joey Wood’s 70 yards that led the way, followed by Nick Bawden’s 34 yards. Bawden also threw for 120 yards and a touchdown. Cody Marshall had 2 catches for 32 yards, and 1 touchdown. Corey Olivet and Logan Chapmaneach had 2 catches on the night. In all, 9 different Cats had receptions on the night.

The kicking game was very solid with Logan Chapmanhandling both the punting and kicking duties. Jack Jarnigan was perfect snapping both punts and PAT’s.

Next up for the Cats are the Bears of Menlo Atherton High School. M-A, as they’re known, is a talented, experienced team with very high expectations. The Bears lost a tough game in week one to a very talented Campolindo team by a score of 38-21. M-A is typically a big, physical team, and the 2013 version is no exception. It will prove to be another tough test for the Cats in their 2013 Home Opener.

Mitty’s second half too much for Wildcats

Senior quarterback Nick Bawden is expected to lead the offense for the Los Gatos football team this fall. What he isn’t expected to do, however, is chase his running back down the field after handing the ball off to him.

But that’s just what he did last Friday night on the turf at Foothill College, and it’s a good thing he did.

Joey Wood took off on a 45-yard run midway through first quarter in the season opener against Archbishop Mitty, but the junior back fumbled at the end of the play–and surprisingly, Bawden was right there to make the recovery.

It was a key play that kept the drive alive for the Wildcats and led them to their first touchdown of the 2013 season. Gatos went up 7-6 when Wood blasted over from the 1-yard line and Logan Chapman kicked the extra point with 4:58 left in the first quarter, and the Wildcats went in at the half with a 14-12 lead over the powerhouse Monarchs.

It was a lead that would not stand up, however. Mitty scored 16 unanswered points in the second half to claim a 28-14 win, spelling defeat for Mark Krail in his debut as the Los Gatos head coach.

“We moved the ball on them in the first half,” said Krail. “We had two long drives that both finished with scores. But they started the second half with a long drive and got the momentum.”

The Monarchs scored on third first two possessions of the third quarter, and Los Gatos could get only as far as the Mitty 43-yard line in the entire second half.

“We knew that they were going to be a good football team and that it would be good test for us,” said Krail after the game. “We’re going to be alright. We’ll watch some film tomorrow and move on. We’re excited to get play a home game against a good team.”

That good team is Menlo-Atherton, who lost 38-21 to Campolindo last Friday night. The Bears will visit the Cats on Sept. 13, 7:30 p.m.

Bawden will lead the Wildcats into action after putting up some solid numbers in the loss to Mitty. The returning starter completed 14 of 27 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown and also had a 25-yard run in the game.

“He did a real nice job running and throwing,” said Krail of his quarterback.

But offense wasn’t really the problem for the Cats in their opener–it was the defense that just couldn’t contain the bigger, faster Monarchs.

“Our tackling needs to improve,” said Krail. “We need to get more hats on the ball and finish plays. But it was our first game. We’ll clean those things up as we go.”

Senior noseguard Bailey McNally was a bright spot on defense for Los Gatos, leading the Wildcats with 13 tackles. Senior free safety Matt Wilcox also had a big night with nine tackles–including one for a loss–to go with a pass interception. He also batted down a Mitty pass.

“We have a lot of good things to build on,” added Krail. “In the first half we did some nice things.”

But the game didn’t really start out that well for the Cats. They went three plays and a punt on their first possession, and on Mitty’s first play from scrimmage Dakari Monroe took off on an 87-yard touchdown run.

Los Gatos battled back, though. After Dru Brown returned the ensuing kickoff 19 yards to the Gatos 21, Bawden and company went to work.

The Wildcats–behind an offensive front of tackles Brendan Ross and Andrew Hilliard, guards Jack Jarnigan and Dane Huesby and center Grady Duggan–went the 79 yards in 11 plays to take the lead. The big play was the 45-yard run by Wood–and, of course, the fumble recovery by Bawden–but a third-down pass from Bawden to Chapman for nine yards was good for a key first down and Keegan Kreutzer also had a 10-yard reception.

Wood capped the drive in the 1-yard run over the right side for the score and Chapman’s kick put the Cats on top.

Big defensive hits by Wilcox, McNally and Cody Marshall forced Mitty into a third and long a few minutes later, and when Trenton Scharrenberg went back to pass he was slammed by Griffin Jordan as he threw, setting up Corey Olivet for a key interception.

Once again the offense went to work. A 25-yard run by Bawden and a 6-yard scramble by the QB helped the Cats reach their own 43, but they faced a fourth and five and dropped back into punt formation. They faked the kick, though, and Brown tossed to Cole Wisecarver for 23 yards and a first down at the Mitty 34.

A 21-yard screen pass from Bawden to C.J. Butcher on another fourth down play took the Cats to the 12, and three plays later Bawden found Marshall for 11-yards and a score. Chapman’s second kick gave Gatos a 14-6 edge.

That’s how it remained until Monroe took off on a 49-yard TD run with 2:25 left in the half. The Monarchs went for two to tie it, but McNally made the tackle in the backfield to thwart the attempt and allow the Wildcats to take a 14-12 lead in at the half.

Mitty actually had one final threat before intermission after taking over the Gatos 22 after recovering a fumble. But Wilcox intercepted a tipped pass and the Cats were able to take a knee to run out the clock.

The lead didn’t hold up in the second half, though. Mitty scored on its first two possessions and held on for the win.

Bawden led the Gatos offense with his 127 yards passing, spreading his throws out to eight different receivers. Marshall (2 for 32), Wood (1 for 5), Chapman (2 for 19), Nick Occhipinti (2 for 8), Kreutzer (1 for 10), Wilcox (2 for 17), Olivet (3 for 15) and Butcher (1 for 21) all caught Bawden passes and Wisecarver had the one catch for 33 yards from Brown.

Wood led the ground attack with 70 yards on 12 carries, but the Cats were held to just 103 yards rushing. Mitty gained 325 yards on the ground and finished with 342 yards of total offense.

McNally and Wilcox led the Gatos defense, along with Jack Tittle (7 tackles, 1 for a loss), Butcher and Marshall (6 tackles apiece), Nick Stojanovich (4 tackles) and Olivet, Jordan, Myles Morrison, Marshall Mistry and Jarnigan (3 tackles each). Ross, Andrew Masek, Chad Cramer and Wisecarver were also in on key stops.

Wildcats on KCAT TV-15

The Los Gatos Wildcats are already in the spotlight when they play football under the Friday night lights, but now they’re becoming television stars. KCAT TV-15 will air five Los Gatos home games this season, broadcasting them on the Thursday following each Friday night contest. The KCAT broadcast schedule includes:

  • Sept. 13 vs. Menlo-Atherton to air on Sept. 19
  • Oct. 4 vs. Santa Clara to air on Oct. 10
  • Oct. 25 vs. Saratoga to air on Oct. 31
  • Nov. 1 vs. Wilcox to air on Nov. 7
  • Nov. 15 vs. Milpitas to air on Nov. 21

For broadcast times, visit kcat.org

By Dick Sparrer

Mitty beats Los Gatos 28-14

The Monarchs spoiled Mark Krail’s coaching debut with the Wildcats, turning a slim halftime deficit into 28-14 victory at Foothill College. In a season-opening matchup between two of the area’s top programs, Mitty burned nearly the first seven minutes of the third quarter to drive 72 yards for the go ahead touchdown. The Monarchs never looked back.

Chandler Ramirez’s 23-yard scoring run and Kyle Evans’ two-point conversion run gave Mitty a 20-14 lead with 5:02 left in the third quarter. The Monarchs extended the lead to two touchdowns later in the quarter when quarterback Trenton Scharrenberg scored on a 7-yard run and then threw a pass to Monroe for the two-point play.

Photo Gallery

What changed at halftime? “In the locker room, our coaches told us we weren’t playing bad, we were just playing flat and making bad mistakes,” Ramirez said. “So what we had to do was play our game. We had to do the basics in order to win this football game.”

Monroe led Mitty with 150 rushing yards and two touchdowns in six carries. Ramirez also had a big night running the ball, but his blocking stood out to Mitty coach Matt Haniger. “I thought Chandler Ramirez did some of the best blocking I’ve seen from a fullback in a long, long time,” Haniger said. “That was really nice to see.”

The game couldn’t have started any better for Mitty. Its defense forced a three-and-out on the season’s opening series, then Monroe provided a jolt with his long sprint to the end zone. But Los Gatos has a talented roster with a top-notch quarterback and a hard-nosed running attack, led by Joey Wood, one of the area’s top sophomores last season.

Wood turned the early Mitty momentum around with a big run through the middle of the field later in the first quarter. He gained 41 yards before fumbling, but Los Gatos recovered the loose ball and picked up an extra 4 yards to boot, moving the Wildcats to the Mitty 24. A 10-yard pass from Nick Bawden to Keegan Kreutzer and a personal foul penalty on the next play put the ball inside the Mitty 5. On third-and-goal from the 1, Wood hammered his way into the end zone. Logan Chapman’s PAT gave Los Gatos a 7-6 advantage. (Mitty’s point-after kick was no good).

Los Gatos worked some magic on its next series, with Bawden scrambling for 25 yards on third-and-13 and Dru Brown throwing a 24-yard pass to Cole Wisecarver on a fourth-and-5 fake punt. The Wildcats later converted a fourth-and-10 on the series when Bawden tossed a misdirection screen to C.J. Butcher, who followed a wall of blockers for a 21-yard gain to the 12. Two plays later, on third down, Bawden rolled right and fired an 11-yard strike in the end zone to Cody Marshall to extend Los Gatos’ lead to 14-6 with 8:56 left in the opening half.

“We had two great drives in the first half and finished with two touchdowns, so I was very pleased,” said Krail, who replaced longtime coach Butch Cattolico after last season. “Second half, they open with a seven-minute drive and really took away the momentum that we had coming out. We just never got on track in the second half on the offensive side.”

Mitty answered late in the half as Monroe provided another spark, spinning through two defenders on a 51-yard touchdown run that pulled the Monarchs to within 14-12.

Los Gatos 7 7 0 0 — 14

Mitty 6 6 16 0 — 28

M — Monroe 87 run (kick failed)

LG — Wood 1 run (Chapman kick)

LG — Marshall 11 pass from Bawden (Chapman kick)

M — Monroe 51 run (run failed)

M — Ramirez 23 run (Evans run)

M — Scharrenberg 7 run (Monroe pass from Scharrenberg)

Photo Gallery

Varsity Schedule
Frosh-Soph Schedule

Article by Darren Sabedra, San Jose Mercury News
Photo by: San Jose Mercury News

Krail, Cat’s Face Mitty in Opener

Los Gatos will have its hands full when they take the field to face the Archbishop Mitty Monarchs this Friday night at Foothill College. The Monarchs team is loaded with talent and balance on both sides of the ball.

Typifying that balance is Chandler Ramirez, a 6-1, 210-pound running back and linebacker. The returning first-team All-WCAL member joins lineman Daniel Mendoza (6-1, 250), running back and defensive back Kyle Evans, and running back and defensive back Dakari Monroe, only a junior, as fantastic two-way players. Linebackers Drew Mount and Erik Sargis led the team in tackles last season with a combined 177.

The Cat’s played the Monarchs extremely tough last year, and almost pulled out the win, but lost the game 28 – 20. Los Gatos scored 13 in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t enough to over take the Monarchs who scored 14 in the second, and two more TD’s in the second half to fend off the Wildcats.

This should be a great contest that will most likely come down to the final minutes of the game before the victor has been decided. This will be Coach Mark Krails debut as the Cat’s head coach, and he would love to come out with a win over a great perennial CCS opponent like Mitty.

Los Gatos Football will have photos, highlights, and the offensive, defensive, and special teams player of the game on our site following the game. Cat’s Varsity Schedule

Los Gatos football: New coach, veteran talent this fall

There’s been a lot of talk in the off-season about who’s not coming back for the Los Gatos High School football team this fall.

Nico Aimonetti, the Outstanding Offensive Lineman in the De Anza Division of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League, and Kevin Kevorkian, the division’s Outstanding Senior, were both lost to graduation, along with a host of first-team all-leaguers.

Even longtime head coach Butch Cattolico has pulled up stakes and moved on to Elk Grove, retiring after a long and distinguished career as a teacher and coach at Los Gatos High.

But as last season fades deep into the shadows of 2012, and as the season opener looms large on the September horizon, it’s time to stop talking about who’s not coming back for the 2013 campaign and focus in on who is–and who will lead them into battle.

Veteran football coach Mark Krail takes over the Los Gatos program, and three comeback all-leaguers head up a cast of 27 varsity returners for the Wildcats, a list that includes four three-year starters.

Seniors Nick Bawden, Jack Tittle, Bailey McNally and Logan Chapman each return for a third varsity campaign, and junior Joey Wood is back for his second season after winning the De Anza Division’s Outstanding Sophomore award a year ago.

Wood (5-foot-11, 215) had a sensational sophomore season, racing for 1,015 yards on 172 carries that included 13 touchdown runs. He also pulled down seven passes for 91 yards and figures to be a major offensive threat for the Wildcats as a junior.

“He’s a downhill running back,” said Krail of Wood. “His physical style or running is his strength. We’re working on him being that one-cut runner because the physical part is what he does so well.”

While Wood figures to be running over defenders this season, Bawden (6-foot-3, 220) will be throwing over them.

The senior quarterback, who has verbally committed to San Diego State, is a returning all-league first teamer who completed 99 of 188 passes for 1,636 yards and 12 touchdowns last year.

“Physically, he’s the complete package,” said Krail of his QB. “He’s big and strong and he’s worked on his agility and quickness. He makes all the throws, controls the huddle and knows the offense inside and out.”

Bawden figures to be making many of those throws to Chapman (6-foot-1, 185), who is back this year after pulling down 20 passes for 332 yards in 2012.

Chapman leads a Gatos receiving corps that Krail considers “a real strength for us, probably our deepest position.” Junior Matt Wilcox (5-foot-11, 170) is a varsity returner and joins junior Nick Occhipinti (5-foot-9, 165) and senior Corey Olivet (5-foot-9, 170) as top pass-catching prospects. Seniors Cole Wisecarver (6-foot-2, 185) and Josh Rubnitz (5-foot-10, 165) and junior Austin Stewart (5-foot-8, 145) have also impressed their coach with their receiving skills.

Bawden’s back-up at quarterback is a good one in junior Dru Brown (5-foot-11, 180), the league’s frosh-soph MVP a year ago.

“He looks really good,” said Krail of Brown. “He’s the fastest kid on the team and one of the strongest kids on the team.”

In addition, senior Trent Bowling returns to take snaps at quarterback.

Joining Wood in the backfield will be senior veteran C.J. Butcher (5-foot-9, 180) as the back-up tailback, with junior Jack Salcido (5-foot-9, 175) also expected to get some carries, and seniors Tittle (6-foot-2, 215), Keegan Kreutzer (5-foot-10, 175) and MacKail Perry (6-foot-1, 195) sharing time at fullback.

Kreutzer “is the best runner of the three,” said Krail, “but they all are good blockers and know that blocking is a big part of being a fullback here.”

Another key blocker for Los Gatos is the tight end, and Krail believes he has a couple of good ones in senior starter Cody Marshall (6-foot-2, 210) and junior Dylan Plane (5-foot-11, 185).

“Skill-wise, we’re pretty good,” said Krail. “We can line up with anybody.”

The only concern for the Cats offensively is an untested crew in the trenches.

“Our main concern is the offensive line,” said Krail. “We have no starters returning, so we have some work to do there.”

Senior letterman Andrew Hilliard (6-foot-4, 225) and junior Brendan Ross (6-foot-4, 210) are top candidates at tackle with junior returner Jack Jarnigan (6-foot-1, 215), senior letterman Dane Huesby (6-foot-2, 205) and junior C.J. Hibbits (5-foot-11, 220) the frontrunners at guard. Senior vet Grady Duggan ((6-foot, 230) is the leader at center and has “really assumed a leadership role,” said Krail.

Senior returners Mitchell Kirkorian (5-foot-10, 235), Andrew Masek (5-foot-11, 220) and Myles Morrison (5-foot-11, 185) and junior Henry Tuckfield (6-foot, 225) are other hopefuls in the offensive front.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Krail of the line. “They could gel as a good group. They’re all football-smart guys.

“If it works out, we’re going to be pretty good on offense,” said Krail. “We’re very excited about the offense. It’s going to look very similar to past years.”

As good as the Cats figure to be on offense, Krail is equally impressive with he sees on the defensive side, with Tittle and McNally leading the charge there.

“I’m intrigued by our defense,” said Krail. “It seems like we can be very good. We’re very athletic.

“We’re pretty strong against the run up front, and against pro-style teams we’re going to be very solid,” he added. “If teams line up and try to pound the ball on us, we’re going to be pretty good.”

Leading that effort will be McNally (5-foot-10, 185) at noseguard and Tittle at middle linebacker, both of them three-year starters on defense.

“McNally is a very hard worker, and the other kids feed off of that,” said Krail.

Tittle moves to inside linebacker after winning all-league first team honors as an outside ‘backer last fall.

“We’re going to try to limit his fullback play if we can,” said Krail of Tittle. “He’s a guy we’re counting on a lot. He’s been good, and he’s figuring it out.”

Marshall and senior returner Cameron Ackerman (6-foot, 180) are other top linebackers for the Cats. Plane and seniors Chris Gonzalez (5-foot-10, 170), Spencer Mashkoori (5-foot-9, 165) and Chad Cramer (5-foot-10, 170) and juniors John Cruse (5-foot-10, 165) and Nick Stojanovich (5-foot-10, 175) will also see playing time at linebacker.

Hilliard, Jarnigan and Masek are top candidates in the defensive line along with junior Griffin Jordan (5-foot-11, 225) and senior returner Ricky Carroll (6-foot, 195) with senior letterman Marshall Mistry (6-foot-3, 215) joining Ross, Perry, Kreutzer and Huesby at defensive end.

“Our base defense is going to be a 5-3, which is a little different than it’s been in the past,” said Krail. “Our defense is probably a little more unsettled than the offensive side.”

Along that same line, Krail calls the secondary “a work in progress.” Wilcox will start at free safety with Butcher and Olivet at the corners. Junior Hunter Impey (5-foot-9, 145) will also get playing time in the secondary and Wisecarver, and junior Mitchell Schwager (6-foot, 170) should see action at safety.

Seniors Ben Bergkamp (5-foot-8, 165), James Detweiler (5-foot-8, 150), Cayce Hopkins (5-foot-11, 170) and Joey Ridgway (5-foot-11, 165) and juniors Aviv Brender (5-foot-9, 155), Evan Warkov (5-foot-10, 170) and Quinn Spiteri (5-foot-9, 165) are also working out in the defensive backfield.

Juniors Jacob Jolley (5-foot-10, 185) and Austin Bohn (6-foot, 185) are each injured and not expected to start the season on the active roster.

Los Gatos will get tested right out the gate when the Wildcats open against powerful Archbishop Mitty on Sept. 6, 7:30 p.m., at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.

“Mitty will be a tremendous challenge for us,” said Krail, who will be assisted this fall by Danny Sullivan, Heath Clark, Joe Farwell, Dale Gustafson, Justin Stenger, Clint McCoy, Mike Jones, Kevin Krail and Jim Polanco. “Word around the area is that they are going to be really good this year. Our hope is that we’ll be able to run the ball a little.”

A week later Gatos opens its home season against Menlo-Atherton–“a playoff-caliber team, and they’re going to be big,” said Krail–before visiting defending Central Coast Section Division I champ San Benito.

The three non-league games get the Cats right into the De Anza Division schedule, where Krail expects the top four–Palo Alto, Milpitas, Wilcox and Los Gatos–“to be the top four again.”

“Milpitas has athletes everywhere and a lot of returning players, Palo Alto is going to be very good with [all-league quarterback Keller] Chryst back, and I’m hearing a lot about how good Wilcox is,” said Krail.

“And Saratoga deserves mention, too,” he added. “Tim [Lugo] is doing a great job over there.”

Paly, Saratoga, Milpitas and Wilcox all have talented quarterbacks back from last year’s teams, but the Los Gatos returner is pretty good, too. And anyway, the Wildcats aren’t looking back as the 2013 season gets under way: They’re just looking forward and hoping for big things to come.

GATOS FROSH-SOPH

The coaching changes at Los Gatos this fall aren’t just limited to the varsity. Andy Holland takes over as the new frosh-soph head coach for the Wildcats, who are coming off of a 9-0-1 season when they won the De Anza Division title with a 5-0 record.

Holland ranks wide receiver Ryan Gault (5-foot-10, 150), linebacker Matt Terbet (6-foot, 205) and quarterback Hunter Bigge (5-foot-10, 170) as top players on the squad this year. All three return from last season’s championship team.

Holland, who will be assisted by Chad Purcell, John Lapava, Erik Eastland and Manny Soria this fall, figures that the Cats will contend with Wilcox for the division championship again this year.

Key Players

Varsity Schedule
Frosh-Soph Schedule

Article by Dick Sparrer, San Jose Mercury News
Photo by: San Jose Mercury News

Football preview: De Anza Division

Football preview: Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division

By Darren Sabedra and Glenn Reeves San Jose Mercury News

PALO ALTO VIKINGS

Coach: Earl Hansen
2012 record: 8-3, 6-1
CCS playoffs: Lost to Serra 52-35 in Open Division first-round game.
Outlook: Stanford-bound quarterback Keller Chryst, a three-year starter and one of the top high school passers in the nation, leads an offense that includes returning receivers Malcolm Davis and Keesean Johnson and tackles Jack Anderson and Justin Rittman. Chryst, the first-team All-Mercury News quarterback in 2012, threw for 2,489 yards and 28 touchdowns while leading the Vikings to the De Anza Division championship. Davis, who caught 33 passes for 675 yards and nine touchdowns last season, also was a first-team All-Mercury News defensive back. Andrew Frick, a second-team All-Mercury News linebacker in 2012, also is back for a Palo Alto team that should again be in the thick of the De Anza race. “We’ll contend, but you’ve got to stay healthy,” coach Earl Hansen said. “You can’t get guys banged up.” The team also returns Connor Scheel, a senior defensive back and athlete.

WILCOX CHARGERS

Coach: Dan Brown
2012 record: 8-4, 5-2
CCS playoffs: Lost to Los Gatos 21-20 in Division II semifinal.
Outlook: The Chargers are big and fast, which easily qualifies the run-oriented team as a contender for the De Anza championship. Back is sprinter Delshawn Mitchell, who rushed for 1,640 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. He showed up for the first practice of his senior season with a lightning bolt shaved into the side of his head and said, “I’m really excited to go play again. I was dying for this opportunity right now.” Asked what kind of season this could be for Wilcox, Mitchell added, “I hope we’re going to go all the way, go to state.” The Chargers also return all-league lineman Jimmy Leatiota, who is 6-foot-3, 280 pounds. He said he can’t wait to play under the Friday night lights and believes 2013 could be special for his team. Leatiota noted that the De Anza is competitive but added, “With our squad, we can beat anybody. Our goal is 13-0.” Coach Dan Brown said the division championship ultimately will be determined by defense. “We’re fired up,” Brown said. “We believe we could be pretty good.”

LOS GATOS WILDCATS

Coach: Mark Krail
2012 record: 8-5, 5-2
CCS playoffs: Lost to St. Francis 17-0 in Division II final.
Outlook: The Wildcats didn’t just lose their senior class after last season. They lost the man who called the shots on the sideline for the past 26 years when Butch Cattolico, just seven wins from becoming the Central Coast Section’s all-time winningest football coach, announced that he was retiring. Mark Krail, who built programs at Pioneer and Santa Clara, takes over this season and inherits a roster that includes San Diego State-bound quarterback Nick Bawden and running back Joey Wood, the most outstanding sophomore in the De Anza last fall. Defensively, nose tackle Bailey McNally, all-league middle linebacker Jack Tittle and defensive backs C.J. Butcher and Corey Olivet are back. “The transition has been good,” Krail said. “I can’t complain one bit about the kids. The kids have just been super positive. We were all ready to get pads on and get started.” Last season, Bawden (6-foot-3 and 220 pounds) threw for 1,636 yards and 12 touchdowns, and Wood rushed for 1,015 yards and 13 touchdowns. The team’s biggest area of inexperience, Krail noted, is on the offensive and defensive lines. “But skill-wise, I think we’ll be pretty good,” the coach added. “Linebacking position I think we’ll be all right. DBs we’re going to be all right.” Los Gatos’ first game under Krail is Sept. 6 against West Catholic Athletic League contender Archbishop Mitty at Foothill College.

MILPITAS TROJANS

Coach: Kelly King
2012 record: 9-4, 5-2
CCS playoffs: Lost to San Benito 35-28 in Division I final.
Outlook: Milpitas returns a trio of talented players from a team that nearly won the De Anza Division championship last season. Back are quarterback Ronnie Reed, running back Squally Canada and receiver Tre Hartley. Reed threw for 1,509 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2012. Canada rushed for 987 yards and averaged 7.77 yards per carry, and Hartley caught 32 passes for 709 yards and seven touchdowns. Jesus Gonzalez, the first-team All-Mercury News kicker last fall, blew out a knee in club soccer and won’t be available, King said. So Gonzalez’s twin, Antonio, will take over the kicking duties. The Trojans were in position to reach the Open Division playoffs in 2012, but a late-season loss to Saratoga vaulted Palo Alto to the De Anza title and automatic Open Division berth. Despite losing standout linebacker/running back Vita Vea, Milpitas should be back in the hunt for a title this season. “We’ve got to come to play every week,” King said.

SARATOGA FALCONS

Coach: Tim Lugo
2012 record: 6-5, 3-4
CCS playoffs: Lost to Aptos 28-24 in Division III first-round game.
Outlook: One year after finishing 2-8 and winning just one De Anza Division game, Saratoga bounced back last fall with a spread-passing attack that generated eye-opening numbers. The Falcons reached the CCS playoffs behind the arm and leadership of Jonathan Walters, who threw for a section-leading 3,503 yards and 39 touchdowns and was named the division’s most outstanding quarterback. Walters, who received second-team All-Mercury News honors, is back for his senior season. His presence, coach Tim Lugo said, is the biggest thing in the world. “I’m trying to find a fifth year of eligibility for him, if I can,” Lugo said. “He’s our heart and soul. Not only is he a phenomenal quarterback, he’s one of the greatest kids you ever want to coach. He’s humble, he’s unselfish. He’s the team leader. Whatever he says, goes. He’s a coach’s dream.” Kyle Dozier, the team’s leading receiver and a first-team All-Mercury News player last season, has graduated. But Grant Faylor (69 catches, 789 yards, seven touchdowns) is back. “People always ask me, ‘How are you going to replace Kyle Dozier,'” Lugo said. “Well, Grant’s going to replace Kyle. But we have to have somebody step up and replace Grant — his catches.” In all, the Falcons return seven starters on offense and seven on defense. “I like the fact that our guys know our system now,” Lugo said. “We’re a year into this thing, and they really, really understand it now. I’m kind of excited to see where it takes us.” Lugo also noted middle linebacker Christian Lee, calling him the team’s defensive leader, and running back/linebacker Jacob Marr, whom Lugo said “has had the best summer of any kid in our program.”

SANTA CLARA BRUINS

Coach: Hank Roberts
2012 record: 5-5, 2-5
Outlook: Santa Clara started 5-0 last season before a five-game skid prevented the Bruins from advancing to the CCS playoffs. Coach Mark Krail left after the season for Los Gatos and was replaced by Hank Roberts, the offensive coordinator at Sequoia. Roberts has stressed being physical in practice, noting that Los Gatos is not “soft” and Milpitas put several Santa Clara players in the hospital last season. “Friday night can’t be the most physical thing,” Roberts said. Santa Clara has a lot of players “who are fresh to our program,” Roberts added, including six sophomores on the varsity. Back are running backs Adam Garza, who rushed for 822 yards and nine touchdowns last season, and Orlando Rivera. Keenan Smith, who had a big season on the ground for Fremont last fall, has transferred to Santa Clara but won’t be eligible until the team plays Mountain View on Oct. 11. Until then, Roberts said, “he’s everybody’s best football player” in practice.

FREMONT FIREBIRDS

Coach: Jake Messina
2012 record: 8-3, 5-1 El Camino
CCS playoffs: Lost to Salinas 49-0 in Division I first-round game.
Outlook: Jake Messina takes over a program that won the El Camino Division last season but lost seven starters on offense and seven on defense, including running back Keenan Smith, who transferred to Santa Clara after leading the team with 1,738 total yards and 25 touchdowns in 2012. Fremont’s top players are quarterback Ricky Teo, running back Kahileigh Creamer, fullback Devante Sanchez, defensive end Sam Kanongata and middle linebacker Elijah Aguilar. Another player to watch is defensive tackle Afa Prescott. Messina said the team’s goals are “that we finish games” and “that we are competitive for four quarters” — “all the things that good, fundamental teams do.” As for the move up to the De Anza, Messina said, “I feel that’s where we belong and where we need to be.”

MOUNTAIN VIEW SPARTANS

Coach: Shelley Smith
2012 record: 3-7, 1-6
Outlook: New coach Shelley Smith, defensive coordinator at Saratoga last season, likes the players on his team but said the Spartans are rebuilding. The roster has only 10 seniors and half have never played football, Smith noted. FB/LB Jake Butters tops the list of returners. “He’s our leader,” Smith said. “He thinks like a coach. He’s a great guy.” Other players to keep an eye on are RB/S A.J. Johnson and tight end Frank Kapp, grandson of former Cal coach Joe Kapp. The team’s line will include a transfer from Montana, Dylan Fluckinger, and Matt McCarthy.