A Look At The New Season

We had a great week in camp last week.  60 players are suited up for the varsity team and the F/S team is over 100.  This years team is quite talented and has the potential to be very good.  

Nick Hirschman has already committed to Colorado and Andrew Berg is committed to Harvard. Several other players including Alec Gletzer, Cole Cusella, Charlie Zweng, Sam Bowers, Erik Eastland, Wes Bolliger and Jake Hackman-Salazar also have shown
great potential and the possibility of playing at the next level. Here is the press release sent out before camp started.

As the Wildcats prepare for their annual football camp the hopes are high but the work ahead of the team is very significant.  The cats have outstanding potential, especially at the skill positions and on defense, but to be a complete team they will need to strengthen both offensive and defensive lines, and play consistent football in all phases of the game.

Offensively, Nick Hirschman (committed to Colorado) and Andrew Berg (committed to Harvard) are the leaders and much is expected of these two. Sam Bowers has really come on this summer and appears to the leading candidate for the split end position, although Jake Hackman-Salazar will get a lot of playing time both at split end and tight end.  This gives the cats three experienced receivers and the potential for an excellent passing game if Hirschman has the time to throw.

Running back Cole Cusella leads the way as a fast powerful threat in the running game.  He has all the tools but missed a lot of time last year due to illness. Backing up Cusella will be a pair of talented tailbacks in Cory McDowell and Andy Heimer.  McDowell needs to stay well as leg injuries have slowed him down, but has outstanding ability.  Heimer is probably the fastest of the three and has really come on to earn some playing time.

The fullback position is held down by Dylan Johns who has looked really good, with aggressive blocking and running. He hits the hole very quickly as a ball carrier. Also getting some time at fullback and tight end will be multitalented Alec Gletzer who can block, run and catch the ball well coming out of the backfield. After this group, the coaches are looking for backups, as many of the these players will be seeing action on both sides of the ball. At quarterback Hayden Hibberd and Nick Lamson both have great potential and are battling for the backup spot and a chance to start next year.  Both are multi sport athletes and are a little behind in picking up all the nuances of the offense but show flashes of brilliance.

Sam Bowers can also play QB but will probably concentrate on wide receiver and free safety. Tim Garvey is a wide out for which we have big expectations, but a hamstring injury has really slowed his chances this summer.  If he is healthy, he could not only get playing time but compete for a starting job. Dionte Cook has been the best junior receiver, and looks to run with the first team often. Other juniors that have shown promise are Ales Nemirov, Luke Hollander, and Trevor Williams.

At Tight End, Mike Sporck, Alec Gletzer, and Jake Hackman-Salazar will all share time.  Each has unique talents, but their work at camp and early season games may determine who gets more time. Senior Brad Cookus and Junior Matt Gault have shown they deserve a look, and they will get it in the scrimmages and preseason games.

At fullback the Cats have several backups that they hope will step up and give some rest to two way players Johns and Gletzer. Seniors Pat Sgarlata, Joey Vizzusi and sophomore Shane Smith will all get some time at the position to see who can fill the backup roll. At tailback Seniors Bevan Waite and Evan Witty will also get a  look along with junior Jon Impey. Other running backs include Sean Fitzsimmons, Nick Martino, Dean Kimmey, a first year player from the wrestling team, Jeremy Rea, and Tyler Perry.

But the biggest question mark this year will be the offensive line. Erik Eastland and Wes Bolliger both saw starting time last year and are expected to be the anchors of the line. Erik at center and Wes probably at left tackle, although he can play guard. That leaves three spots to fill and plenty of candidates to fill them. Senior James Thomas has gotten a lot stronger over the off season and looks good at guard. Senior Gabe Wilds knows the offense really well and will get a chance at guard as well. Senior Suhkraj Sohal played a lot on defense last year but is looking to play guard this year.  An ankle injury from wrestling has slowed his progress but he has solid potential. Three big senior tackles will compete, and their size is a big asset on a relatively small line.

Alex Aguair is very explosive but needs to improve his feet, while Tyler Sanford has size and intelligence but needs to be more aggressive. Senior Adam Lopez has really come on this summer, working very hard and has the size and strength to make a difference, but he needs to show consistency to crack the first unit.  Will Hawker will back up Eastland at center and is a very steady performer with good size.  Three juniors have really come on and any or all of them could move ahead of the seniors during camp as all three have good speed and strength, but they all lack experience. Tackle Preston Rind is by far the fastest lineman on the team. He also has both height and size. Taig McNulty, who can also play tight end, has shown a great knack for playing guard or tackle and seems headed for stardom at several positions on the team, and has all the tools to be a super star on both sides of the ball.  Blair Gardner is not a big lineman, but he is one of the strongest and has very good speed and agility.  He can help on either side of the ball.  Junior tackle Cooper Heyl has improved his quickness and strength this off season, but a leg injury has held him up this summer so he is a wait and see guy. Juniors Evan Havens and Raphael Shin will be battling for the top spot as a junior center. Both are good athletes but are a little on the small side. Senior Charlie Zweng who has improved more than any player this off season may play some line, but most of his time will be spent on defense as his speed and ability seem to be needed on that side of the ball.  

Also competing for offensive line is a group of players that need experience and are behind the others in technique. Seniors Manny Montatlo and Chris Diamond are both first time varsity players but have good size. Juniors Dave Bates, Sam Notman, Zack Sprintz, Evan Staggs and Bryce Aristides are still learning the offense and need time to get into the swing of things on the line. It is a group with great potential but potential does not win football championships, performance does.

 

On the defensive side, the Cats have shown excellent team speed. Alec Gletzer returns at linebacker where he has really found a home, and should be a leader with both toughness and quickness. Other returning starters include Mike Sporck, Andrew Berg, Charlie Zweng, Sohal Suhkraj, Dylan Johns, and Jake Hackman-Salazar.  The linebacking group needs to be pretty good for the cats to win. Gletzer must stay healthy and senior Joey Vizzusi must play well and make his reads faster. Sophomore Shane Smith appears to have all the tools but needs experience to crack the starting lineup. Senior Sean Fitzsimmons knows all his reads, but must become more physical at the line of scrimmage. Junior Nick Martino has excellent quickness and a nose for the football, but his reads are very undisciplined.

Senior Charlie Zweng will also play some linebacker, and his speed and experience could have him playing here if the others don’t come around. Because of Zweng’s versatility he can also play outside linebacker or defensive tackle. Where he ends up will be where the defense needs him most and where others have not stepped up to do the job. Sohal Suhkraj also is a talented linebacker who played nose guard last year, but his lack of speed because of an ankle injury may keep him from playing up this year. Mike Sporck started at outside linebacker last year and has been very solid here this summer.  He is both physical and quick, so he can cover out of the backfield or take on the off tackle on sweep runs.

Seniors Cole Cusella and Charlie Zweng both have been outstanding here during the summer as well. Both have great speed for coverage and the physical strength to stop the run. Cusella needs to be a little more disciplined at this spot and Zweng is still learning the position. Senior Harrison Tinsley is also expected to compete for playing time as he was very impressive last season on special teams, but he missed most of the summer and has fallen behind the others. Junior Taig McNulty has the strength to stop the run but needs to work on coverage skills to stay at this position, otherwise he will probably find a home on the defensive line.

Junior Nick Lamson has the size and quickness to play here but is still a project since he is learning after playing basketball and volleyball in the winter and spring, plus he is in a battle for the backup quarterback spot which takes a lot of studying. Seniors Cam Hashemi and John Shamshoian both played the position last year and have experience. Either or both may end up on the defensive line unless they can show more quickness in coverage. Juniors Evan Havens, Landon Cramer and Tyler Perry all have work to catch up with the others at this position. Junior Jeremy Rea may also get a look here but due to a knee and wrist injury, will start the season as an unknown. We’ll look at him for a couple of defensive positions to see if we can find him a home.

In the secondary the Cats have at least 7 players who have shown that they can play. They include returning starters Berg and Hackman-Salazar but also include Free Safety Sam Bowers who has shown well this summer but must prove he is physical when we put on the pads.  Senior cornerback Dylan Lovit has had a great summer, and has shown tremendous speed and coverage skills. Junior Andy Heimer has the speed and the skills to compete and earn a starting spot here in the secondary.  Senior Sean Collins has great savvy at strong safety and if he is physical enough on the run, could be a real plus in starting and letting the two way guys get some rest. Junior Andrew Tjon has also worked his way into this group and as a strong and free safety.

This group has great flexibility and several can play corner or strong or free which gives coach Neal Maddox a chance to rest many who are playing as receivers as well.  Several players are working to make it an eight man rotation and have shown that they would like to be considered for playing time.  Senior Evan Witty has the speed to cover and the experience at the varsity level. Juniors Dionte Cook and Jon Impey have shown well this summer, as has free safety Luke Hollander.  Juniors Matt Gault and Jeremy Rea both could help out at strong safety but still have to show themselves ready at the varsity level. Others who will be competing in the defensive backfield include, Bevan Waite, Dean Kimmey, Tim Garvey, Jon Ito, Max Cunningham, Alex Nemirov, Cory McDowell, Patrick Sgarlata, Chase Mardesich, and Hayden Hibberd.

On the defensive line, Defensive Coordinator Mark Magagna likes to have 6 to 9 players ready every week.  So with a lot of spots to fill the following players seem to have a good shot at earning some playing time. Seniors Dylan Johns, Charlie Zweng, Erik Eastland, James Thomas and Suhkraj Sohal, all had playing time last year and started games. Juniors Blair Gardner, Preston Rind, and Taig McNulty all seem to have outstanding potential as far as size, speed and agility are concerned. Seniors Brad Cookus, Cam Hashemiand, and John Shamshoian will try to make a switch from outside linebacker to down linemen.  Junior Evan Staggs has been hampered by a shoulder injury and has fallen behind, but started quite a few games on the Frosh/Soph team last year.  Seniors Aguiar, Wilds, Sanford , Lopez, Hawker, and Bolliger will all concentrate on offense, but could help out on the defensive side if needed. Juniors Notman, Heyl, Diamond, Sprintz, Bates Aristide and Shin are also concentrating on defense, but Magagna is always looking for one more guy to slot in on defense.

The kicking game seems to in good hands with Juniors Heimer, and Impey vying for the place kicking job, while Hirschman returns as the punter after a strong showing last year and Hibberd up from the Frosh/Soph looking to be a strong backup. Both also hold on PAT’s and Joey Vizzusi is the long snapper with Shane Smith as the probable backup.

The coaching staff still has a group of veterans led by Eric Van Patten and Craig Sakamoto.  Mark Magaga still runs the defense and Russ Leal coaches the offensive line. Neal Maddox is back as defensive back coach and looking forward to working a very talented group.

The Cats suffered a big loss when Mike Scialabba was let go by the school, but hope to replace him with another former Los Gatos star linebacker in Joe Farwell. A healthy team could make a run at both another league and CCS title if the line can become a cohesive group and team stays focused through a tough preseason and an equally tough last three games.

 

 

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