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Sure it’s a rivalry … a rivalry that dates back some 55 years.
But when his Wildcats were heading into Friday’s game at Saratoga, Los Gatos head football coach Mark Krail was worried about more than just the Falcons–he was concerned that his Cats just might look past Saratoga and ahead to league title favorite Milpitas, just a week away on the Gatos schedule.
The Cats had already beaten Wilcox–42-32 in the first week of the league season–and Milpitas is the other favorite in the De Anza Division of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League.
“We always know where [Milpitas] is on our schedule, and we try not to look ahead,” said Krail, whose Cats host the Trojans on Oct. 16, 7 p.m., at Helm Field. Still, with the Falcons entering last Friday’s game riding a three-game losing streak, Krail had good reason to worry about his Wildcats looking past Saratoga and ahead to the Trojans.
It turns out, though, any such concern was unfounded.
Los Gatos scored twice in the first two minutes of Friday’s game at Benny Pierce Field, and went on to move out to a 34-0 halftime lead on the road to an easy 41-20 victory.
“Our concern coming over here was that we wouldn’t play at high level, yet we did,” said Krail. “We didn’t feel good in terms of offensive rhythm; it wasn’t the prettiest of games, but the scoreboard was.”
The Wildcats dominated Saratoga just the way Krail had hoped they would, and now they match identical league records with Milpitas heading into play this Friday. Both clubs are 2-0 in the division with Los Gatos 3-2 for the year and Milpitas 4-2 overall.
“[Milpitas] is always a tough game,” said Krail of Friday’s clash. “It will be a great challenge for us.”
“They’re doing well and taking care of business,” he added. “They’re very good, just like they always are.”
Los Gatos was pretty good last Friday night, scoring on the third play after the opening kickoff and then again just two plays after kicking off to the Falcons.
Senior running back Jake Parinello set the tone early when he broke the third play from scrimmage 73 yards for a touchdown.
Saratoga quickly discovered that the Wildcats were just as tough defensively as they were on offense. After Caden McCloughan stopped the Falcons for no gain on the first play after the Gatos kickoff, Mile Beach ripped the ball out of the hands of Saratoga quarterback Will Liddle, picked it up on a bounce and ran 22 yards for a touchdown. After Arun Craythorne kicked the first of his five extra points, the Cats were up 13-0 just 1:53 into the football game.
The Wildcats would go on to score three more times before the half and four more times in the game, but it was really the defense that played a starring role in this one. The Cats held the Falcons to just 40 yards of total offense in the first half and forced four turnovers–three interceptions to go with Beach’s fumble recovery.
Jake Tonges had one of those picks, and it was impressive indeed. Liddle was attempting to throw a screen pass but Tonges was right in his face, and with lightning quick reflexes, picked off a pass that didn’t go more than a few yards.
“As coaches, we were kind of proud of that to be honest,” said Krail. “They do a lot of that quick screen, and we were working on it this week. In fact, he intercepted one in practice that was very similar to that one.”
Tonges’ interception set up the fourth Gatos touchdown, a 15-yard TD run by Harrison Hibberd with 4:59 left in the half. It had been a 23-yard punt return by Hibberd that led the third Los Gatos touchdown, a 15-yard pass from Hunter Bigge to Ryan Gault.
Moments after Hibberd’s score, Parinello intercepted a Saratoga pass, but the Cats went out on three plays and a punt. They weren’t out for long, though. Gault picked a Falcon pass on the first play after the punt and ran it back 39 yards to the Saratoga 22. Bigge tossed a screen pass to Parinello and he went 22 yards for the score.
That put the Wildcats up 34-0 and their offense was finished with just 1:51 left in the half. The defense? That’s another story.
The Falcons completed a 23-yard pass to move into Los Gatos territory at the 39, but their hopes for a possible score were quickly dashed when Beach dropped Saratoga quarterback Alec Lindeman with a pancake sack to end the threat.
“It was a textbook sack,” said Krail. “He kept his head up and he hit him in the right spot.”
Saratoga managed to open the second half with a scoring drive, but Los Gatos matched the touchdown when back-up quarterback Kyle Reid snuck over from the 1-yard-line.
The Falcons would get two more scores, but it was much too little far too late to pose any sort of threat to the Cats.
It was a night when the defense grabbed the spotlight, and senior linebacker Jack Randolph led the show by topping the team with eight tackles. He also knocked down a Saratoga pass.
Colt Doughty and Matt Hanna were in on five tackles apiece for the Cats and Kevin Potts finished with four. Jake Holton had three tackles and knocked down a couple of ‘Toga tosses and Beach, Mike Fogerty and Frederick Pittman were in on three stops each.
McCloughan, Hibberd, Ryan Wilcox, Tonges, Paul Badaracco, Jake Seandel, Reid, Craythorne, Jake Clyne and Thomas Gregg were also in on tackles for the Wildcats. McCloughan and Wilcox also batted down passes and Craythorne had a quarterback hurry.
Parinello was the offensive star for the Cats with four carries for a team-high 86 yards and two catches for 29 more. Ben Grasty had a big night carrying the football with 40 yards on four tries and Jordan Howell ran seven times for 25. Doughty had three runs for 22 yards and Jared Geredes had three for 12.
Los Gatos finished the night with 196 yards on the ground behind the offensive front wall of tackles Seandel and Savo Miljevich, guards Charley Laragione and Matt Terbet and center Mark Shaheen.
Bigge ended the evening hitting on 4 of 10 passes for 52 yards. In addition to the two screens to Parinello, he hit Gault twice for 23. Reid completed his only pass, a 33-yarder to Wilcox.