It's difficult to replace a player like Nick Kalpin. The 2007 De Anza League most valuable player and second team all-state RB/LB had 2,553 total offensive yards and scored 41 of Los Gatos' 62 touchdowns last season.
Kalpin is moving on to play for Portland State this year. "It's impossible to replace a kid like him," Head Coach, Butch Cattolico said, "We depended on him a lot last year."
That vacancy will leave a colossal gap in the Wildcats' offense for 2008 and Cattolico knows that it's going to be a different brand of football this fall. "Everyone is going to have to pull their own weight this year," Cattolico said, "we wont have Kalpin there anymore to save us when we make mistakes."
Cattolico has been preaching that message all summer to his boys and it looks like they're getting the idea. Los Gatos is a perfect 18-0 this summer in passing league competitions with big wins against Valley Christian, Gilroy and Wilcox. "This season our passing is going to be a lot bigger than before," Cattolico said.
6-foot-2, 210-pound junior Nick Hirschman will take the snaps this season and from his time under center in '07 and his performance this summer, he is already getting the same kind of attention that former Wildcat and current QB for the Buffalo Bills, Trent Edwards had received at Hirschman's age.
In fact, Edwards himself told Coach Cattolico after watching Hirschman perform this summer, "This kid's really got it, coach."
"That's a pretty big thing to hear," Cattolico said. "That's coming from an NFL guy."
"He can drop back and throw the ball, but he can also run you over," Cattolico said of his junior QB.
Hirschman will have plenty of targets to throw to this season. Senior WR Chris Cusella is expected to step up and make things happen in '08. "He has very good hands and runs dynamite routs," Cattolico said. Junior WR Jake Hackman-Salazar started at free safety last season but will undoubtedly get a lot of catches in '08. Junior flanker, Andrew Burg, the top frosh-soph receiver last year is also expected to make a big splash for the Cats this season.
The running game will still be there as last year's FB/LB, senior Chris La Bouff will take over for Kalpin at tail back. La Bouff carried the ball 35 times last season averaging over 6 yards per carry.
Like Kalpin who also started at line backer, La Bouff will make the move from full back to tail back and is expected to lead the Wildcats' running game. Senior Hamilton Fairburn will take over as the starting full back.
Cattolico is also concerned about the loss of his four very strong senior linebackers from last season, Kiko Alonso, Nick Kalpin, Gorbaksh Sohal and Karl Winkelman. "In fact, they left the biggest gap in our team," Cattolico said. "We lost four very good linebackers." La Bouff will serve double duty trying to lead the running game and the all new core of linebackers.
Cattolico is excited about his offensive and defensive lines. "Our lines are our real strengths of the team," Cattolico said. Look for seniors Spencer Havens and Jordan Dombrowsky to lead the way at guard and tackle. "Dombrowsky has shown some special things. He's a big kid and runs a 4.7 40," Cattolico said.
The Wildcats have all but forgotten the end of their 2007 season when they lost to Gilroy 40-34 in one of the more exciting CCS playoff games in recent memory. Now they're looking forward to another successful year in the SCVAL and another shot in the CCS playoffs.
Look for Los Gatos to be at the top of the league with Palo Alto, Milpitas and Wilcox also in the mix.
"We're ready to go out there and see what we can do," Cattolico said. "We just can't wait to play some football."