Milpitas here we come…

The 2014 football season has now completed 7 weeks. Our Wildcats stand at a very solid 6-1 after last week’s 49-7 defeat of Palo Alto. The cats got off to a bit of a slow start on offense and defense, but then got things going with all three phases of the game, and never looked back.

After a quick “3 and out” on offense, and then an impressive touchdown drive by Paly that included two 3rd down conversions and two 4th down conversions by the Viking offense, the Cats started to roll and never looked back. The offense went on to score 49 unanswered points, while the defense and special played great football for the remainder of the game.

Dru Brown was solid again completing 11 of 16 passes for 160 yards and touchdown passes to Matt Wilcox and Quinn Spiteri. The ground game ran for 256 yards and 5 touchdowns, with Joey Wood leading the way with 102 yards. Spiteri, Jack Salcido, and Jordan Howell all contributed over 30 rushing yards each.

That brings us to Halloween night and a trip to Milpitas High School. Both teams are highly ranked and undefeated in league play. Milpitas has impressive wins over Valley Christian and Wilcox with a dominant defense and explosive offense. This is one of the games that many Cats fans have marked on their calendars. The Milpitas-Los Gatos rivalry has been a great one over the last ten years, with Los Gatos winning 5 times, and Milpitas winning 4 times, with one tie.

To keep up the current winning streak, the Cats will have to play a great game on both sides of the ball and certainly on special teams. We are as healthy as we have been in recent weeks, getting back several players that have been out with injury. Should be a fun trip to Milpitas.

Go Cats!!

Let the League Begin!

The Wildcats opened league play with two impressive wins against Monta Vista and Santa Clara. On both occasions the Cats scored 60-plus points on offense and the defense has continued its outstanding play.

On Friday, October 10th, we hosted Monta Vista and on Friday, October 17th we travelled to Santa Clara. During these two games, several players were held out while healing from injuries. Most notable were Joey Wood and Nick Occhipinti, two standout offensive players. But, as good teams will do, we responded with the common “next man up” philosophy. The ground game hardly missed a beat running for over 250 yards against Monta Vista, and nearly 350 against Santa Clara. Several running backs have stepped in to replace Wood and Occhipinti. They include Jordan Howell, Quinn Spiteri, Jack Salcido, and Jake Parrinello. Ryan Gault, and Harry Hibberd. Fulback play had been steady as well with Nick Stojanovich, Colt Doughty, and Jake Holton all in the rotation.

The common denominator with that outstanding running game is obviously the offensive line. They have been solid all year long with our offense averaging over 190 yards per game through the air, and over 220 each night on the ground. 400 yards per game on average is very good, and it starts up front. The offensive line unit is made up of 4 seniors, Jack Jarningan (Center), Brendan Ross (Left Tackle), Henry Tuckfield (Right Tackle), and Griffin Jordan (Left Guard). The lone junior on the line is Right Guard Matt Terbet. Junior reserves Trevor Taormina, Zack Smits, Clayton Kingsbury, Mark Shaheen and Aidan Craythorn have also contributed of late. The future of the offensive line looks solid moving forward.

The defense for the Cats has been great all season, holding teams to teams to a 15 point per game average. That number is a little high because of the high scoring game at St. Mary’s where the Cats allowed 35 points in a shootout. Other than that, we have allowed 13, 7, 14, 14, and 7 points per game. One of the things that our team really prides itself in is creating turnovers and winning the turnover margin. Through 6 games the Cats defense has created 17 turnovers and have only turned it over 5 times. That is a decisive edge on the battle for turnovers.

As we look forward, our schedule gets much more challenging beginning on Friday, October 24th. This will be the Homecoming game for the Cats and we face always-tough Palo Alto. Palo Alto is coming off a win against Monta Vista and will be hungry for a win at Helm Field. For the first time in many years, the Paly sideline is not being controlled by Earl Hansen. The long time head coach retired last spring, and has been replaced by Jake Halas. Halas was the Vikings defensive coordinator for many years under Hansen.

The Cats will look to continue our winning ways by playing stout defense and balanced offense. Special Teams have also been very solid for LG with Walker Sedgwick and Nick Stojanivich handling the kicking and punting duties, respectively.

Homecoming is always a special time for a high school, its alumni, and its community. Hopefully the large crowd is treated to a good game with the Cats coming out on top!

Go Cats!

2014 Pre-season Recap

Our Los Gatos Wildcats just finished the toughest pre-season of any public school in the CCS. We took on four perennial playoff teams, and the results were quite good. We started the year with CCS Open Division runner-up Mitty with a nice, hard fought win. The Cats followed that up with impressive wins against Menlo-Atherton and San Benito in consecutive weeks.

Week four was a new experience for LGHS Football. For the first time in many years, if ever, the Cats travelled out of section to take on Stockton power-St. Mary’s High School. The trip was great in all ways, except the final outcome. The team stopped for a team meal at the Graduate, in Stockton. We were treated very well by the local eatery, and were off to a good start. Upon arriving at St. Mary’s, we were welcomed, and treated very well there as well.

The game turned out to be one for the ages, as it was a back and forth struggle between two very good teams. With 5 minutes in the final quarter, we found ourselves down 10 points after St. Mary’s scored the last touchdown. The Cats responded with a touchdown drive to bring the score to 35-32 with 2 minutes remaining. We recovered and onside kick, and proceeded to drive the ball down inside the five yard line. Unfortunately, with 6 seconds left on the clock, we went for one last pass play to win the game, but as things turn out, we committed a fumble, and the clock ran out. It was a great high school football game, hard fought with both teams “giving it” everything they had. Matt Wilcox and Dru Brown continued to lead the Wildcat offense.

It’s worth mentioning that our offense was without three of our big playmakers, Ryan Gault, Nick Occhipinti, and Joey Wood, all lost to injury. Lots of credit goes to the Wildcat players that stepped and carried the load, and continued to compete to the last play. League play is just around the corner, and the De Anza league will once again prove to be one of the best leagues in the CCS. The Cats open league play following a bye week.

Opponent number one is Monta Vista. Monta Vista is a well-coached, scrappy team that will compete to the end. Looking down the road to Santa Clara, Palo Alto (homecoming), Milpitas, Saratoga, and Wilcox, we have a tough league schedule, and our goal, as always, is to compete for a league and CCS Championship.

The 2014 Varsity team is a group of tough, hard working young men, who have really gotten off to a great start. We’re all committed to “pulling the rope” in the same direction.

This season should be a great one for LG football.

Homecoming Week-Here We Come.

Friday night’s victory over Saratoga was a great night for all of Los Gatos. The crowd was great, the energy was great. Rivalry games are one of the highlights of the season, and Friday night was no exception. There was a special energy on campus all day Friday, as the students, teachers, and the entire LGHS community were anticipating the game against the longtime rival.

Much like the previous four games, the Cats got off to a quick start, scoring on our first possession, and adding another score to make it 14-0. Unlike the last three games, Saratoga answered with a score of their own, making the score 14- 7. At that point, we knew we had a game. The Cat defense held Saratoga on their next possession, and the offense put together a drive to score right before the half, making the score 21-7 at halftime.

The second half belonged to the Cats. The offense started to get the running game going, and it became a very physical second half. The Cats built a 42-7 lead, and finished up with a 42-14 victory. It was another night where the entire roster got on the field to see some action. A great night for the Seniors, who can say “they never lost to Saratoga”…

Homecoming week is next up against Wilcox. Wilcox comes in with a 6-1 record, and is playing very well. They are a big, physical team with one of the best running backs around in Delshawn Mitchell. Our defense will have to be disciplined, and assignment perfect in stopping their Option/Veer offense. Wilcox is also very stout on defense. Fortunately our offense has been playing pretty well in recent weeks, averaging over 42 points a game the last 4 games. We’ll need to continue to run and throw the ball to be effective. Joey Wood is coming off a great performance against Saratoga, rushing for over 200 yards. The offensive line play continues to improve, and fortunately for the Cats, both Nick Bawden, and Dru Brown have played exceptional football at the quarterback position.

Looking forward to a good week, and a great challenge on the field!

Go Cats!

Momentum is a Good Thing

Friday night’s victory over Mountain View makes four in a row for the Cats. We’ve seen a great deal of improvement with the team over the last 4 weeks. Granted, this has been the very doable part of the schedule, but the players have done a nice job of keeping the focus on us rather than our opponents. One of the things that we’ve talked a lot about is momentum. We gained some nice momentum with our win at San Benito, and have continued that over the last three weeks. Our offensive and defensive lines have really grown to become strengths of our team. We had very little returning experience on these units, and each week they are getting better and better.

This rivalry week should be a lot of fun, and a great week for Los Gatos High School. Over the years, I’ve been a part of some pretty good rivalries. These weeks always have a little more energy, a little more enthusiasm around the campus, and on the practice field. While it’s not Wedemeyer vs Pierce, the coaching aspect will be fun for me as well. Tim Lugo, the head coach at Saratoga, coached with me for 10 years at Pioneer, and I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and as a person. His players are well coached and I guarantee they will give him everything they’ve got Friday night. We have to match and exceed that enthusiasm if we’re going to be successful. I have a hunch we’ll be “up” for this game! Lugo is the only Saratoga coach to beat Los Gatos in many years. Congrats to him, but 1 is enough!

Friday’s game vs Mt. View was a well-played game by all three units for the Cats. The offense continued to improve and executed at a high level. Dru Brown started at quarterback, played the entire game, and played very well. We are very fortunate to have great depth at the quarterback position. There is no doubt that Dru would start at 90% of the schools in the Central Coast Section.

Our game plan did not change a bit, and neither did our execution. Dru stepped in and did a great job leading our offense. Cory Olivet had another good night for the Cats, returning a punt for a touchdown, running for a touchdown, and receiving a pass for a touchdown. Joey Wood had over 100 yards rushing and another rushing touchdown. Logan Chapman and Cody Marshall also caught touchdowns for the Cats. The defense continued to shine as it allowed only 1 touchdown in a very sold effort. The defense also recorded a safety when Nick Stojanovich tackled a Mt. View player in the endzone.

The end of our regular season schedule is stocked with great teams. The team knows what lies ahead, and is very excited to take each week head on, starting with Saratoga this week.

Go Cats!

Successful De Anza League Opener

Friday night was the opening night of De Anza league play for the Cats. It was a successful night all around for the Boys of Fall. The Frosh-Soph team got the night started off in the right direction with a convincing victory over the Santa Clara Bruins.

The challenge of the week for the Varsity was to get off to a “fast start” and leave no doubt. We did just that scoring 35 points in the first quarter. It was really a night for the defense as they completed dominated and shut down the “fast pace” no huddle offense of the Bruins. In fact, the Bruins recorded 2 first downs in the first half, both coming by Wildcat penalties. It was a long night for the Bruins, as their running game was not a factor, and their quarterback, Antonio Nazario, was hurried and harassed all night long.

The defensive play of the night came in the first quarter when Brendan Ross stripped the quarterback of the ball, and Cameron Ackerman was there to “scoop and score”. This is a theme that has been preached all season long by the defensive coaching staff, especially linebacker coach Joe Farwell. Griffin Jordan also added a fumble recovery deep in Bruin territory that led directly to a Cat touchdown!

On special teams, it was a night to remember as well. Early in the game, Bailey McNally blocked a punt deep their territory. The next play Joey Wood ran in the touchdown from the 15-yard line. Logan Chapman had a good night as well. He continued his perfect streak on PAT’s, and added 4 touchbacks on kick-offs.

The offense was efficient in the first half, scoring touchdowns each time it reached the red zone. Joey Wood scored 4 times on runs, and Corey Olivet added a rushing touchdown as well. Nick Bawden and Dru Brown combined to be 9 for 11 for 104 yards, and the team added 212 yards rushing as well.

It was a night where every varsity player saw action in the game, and it was well deserved. Our players work extremely hard during the summer and during the season, so it’s gratifying to get all of the team on the field on a Friday night.

Friday night we, as a school, honored Breast Cancer Awareness at the game, and specifically honoring Chris Brienzo, long time Cat parent and supporter. It was a nice tribute to Chris and the effort toward fighting Breast Cancer. Thanks to all who contributed to the Chris Brienzo Scholarship fund.

Next up for the Wildcats: We travel to Fremont High School for a 7:00 pm start. Go Cats!

Life During a Bye Week

Life during a Bye WeekBye weeks are an interesting part of a season. It’s a time to certainly continue to work on the fundamentals, blocking, tackling, etc, but it’s also a time to get people healthy by giving some needed time off.

The challenge always lies with which way to go, “back off and heal” or “pedal to the metal” knowing there is no game. Our approach this past week was somewhere in the middle. While we did rest certain players to allow them to get healthy, but we also pushed the team very hard for three days working on the mentioned fundamentals. In the end, it was a good, productive week.

We appear to be healthy for this week, and look forward to getting a couple of players back in the next couple of weeks.

The one other factor, when dealing with a bye week, is momentum. Having come off a nice win, it would be great to get right back out there the next week to continue to build that momentum. Worst-case scenario is a tough loss before the bye week. That week off can seem like 4 weeks, but fortunately our team didn’t have to go there.

Our next opponent is the Santa Clara Bruins. This is our league opener, and a very important game for the Cats. We have some good momentum going into the game, and we want to build on it! As many know, it’s also the school that I coached at the last three seasons. There are some great kids at Santa Clara, ones that I hated to leave, but this is 2013 and we’re “Full Throttle” ahead. The Bruins are running a new offense that resembles the fast paced offense of the Oregon Ducks. They are “no huddle”, rapid fire with their play calling. But, don’t be fooled, they are a running football team. Their MVP is four-year varsity running back Adam Garza. He is the point person of the offense. If we can stop Adam as an option, things get a bit tough for the Bruins.

On offense, our strategy will be consistent with our last game. We are going to try to establish the power running game, and then go to the play action passing game. Our offensive line play is improving each week, as they, as a group, are starting to accumulate some game time together! They are becoming a strength of our team!

Friday night we, as a school, will be honoring Breast Cancer Awareness at the game, and specifically honoring Chris Brienzo, long time Cat parent and supporter. It should be a nice tribute to Chris and the effort toward fighting Breast Cancer

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.

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.

It Seems Like Yesterday

Well, it seems like yesterday when it was Thursday, January 31st, 2013. That was the day I was introduced to the players and parents of Los Gatos High School. It was a great day for me personally, as I was beginning the greatest challenge of my coaching career. I was hit with some great questions that day from the players and the parents alike. When the night was done, I felt a great sense of relief and a very positive feeling. It was now time to go to work!

I ended the players meeting with the number 218. That was the number of days that we had before our first game together as the 2013 Wildcat Football Team. As a group we have watched that number tick down as the spring and summer passed. Many days and hours of hard work and sacrifice by the players as they have prepared for the 2013 season.

Here am I now, on the eve of “Camp”. Not exactly sure what to expect, but very excited to be a part of this long standing tradition at Los Gatos High School. The players and coaches are more than ready to “get this going”. I’ve been told it’s like “3 days of Christmas” by one of the players. Whatever happens, I am completely blown away by the hard work and tremendous spirit that the LG Football parents have put into “Camp”. We, the players and coaches, are tremendously lucky to have such a supportive group of parents that are really making sure our experience is one for the ages.

The number is now down to 23, and we’re rapidly approaching that night of September 6th, 2013, our first game together as 2013 Wildcats. Our goal is to practice each day like champions, and to let it rip on Friday nights! We’re almost there…