The Los Gatos High football team was ready to play its season-opener against Oak Grove High on Friday night.  

They were warming up prior to their game when coach Mark Krail was notified about five minutes to 7pm that there was going to be a delay. The delay turned into postponement after the Eagles backed out due to the poor air quality.

Krail’s immediate response was to push it back until the following day but the Oak Grove coaching staff was still hesitant to play.

“They didn’t want anything to do with Saturday,” he said.    

Krail and his coaching staff went on the hunt to search for a school that was available to play. They found Monterey Trail, which is a school based out of south Sacramento, and called them at around 11pm to set something up. Both teams ended up playing at Soquel High on Saturday night, avoiding what could’ve been one less game for the players. 

“The air was a lot better over there then it was here, so we ended up going over there,” Krail said.

The Wildcats had about eight hours to prepare for the Mustangs, which ran a veer offense scheme similar to Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division rival Wilcox High.

Yet, they were victorious, 42-20, and began the season with a 1-0 record. 

Krail said they played well in all three phases of the game but it was the defense that stepped in and made the big plays. They forced four fumbles and an interception, which set them up with some great field possession.

“I think we play at a level that’s really fast,” he said. “When you’re fast and aggressive, you can kind of make up for things. They just rally to the ball really well.” 

Los Gatos High football practice
The Los Gatos High football team goes through some lineman drills during practice. (Photo by Juan Reyes)

Los Gatos senior linebacker Jake Ripp, who plans to play at Boise State, is the heart and soul of the defense.  

Ripp said he knew they were going to be facing a great opponent in Monterey Trail. They went over different schemes and managed to put together a game plan against the Mustangs.

“We just balled out and I had fun playing with the guys,” he said.

Ripp added that it’s going to be exciting to see the defense in action, especially when they have 28 players who can potentially step in as a starter.

“[Krail] can put in anyone and they can do a great job,” Ripp said. 

Ripp mentioned that they’re stacked in the skilled position department and the offensive line is one of best he’s played with in a while.

Krail said they don’t have a ton of experience on the offense but they will have senior receiver Quinn Merritt, center Nathan Yore and fullback Caspian Bailey returning this season. The Wildcats will also have tight end Lucas White, who can line up in three different positions on offense and defense. 

“He’s just got a great nose for the ball,” Krail said. 

Prior to the game, White had to wake up at 6am to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test in Concord. He also had to do a walk-through and study some film just hours before kickoff. 

“I’m just really proud of our team because it’s hard to win against a veer offense without any prep,” White said. “But coach [Krail] somehow was able to tell us what to do and we just followed his game plan and won.” 

Last minute changes are nothing new for Los Gatos after coming off a shortened spring season due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They finished with a 5-0 overall record and Krail believes the momentum carried on to this year.

Los Gatos High football coach Mark Krail is entering his ninth season as the skipper of the program. (Photo by Juan Reyes)

The 58-year-old coach said they have a good mix of upperclassmen, which includes four juniors starting on the offensive line. They also have junior quarterback Jake Boyd leading the offense.

“There were some new bodies on the offensive side and they really held up pretty good,” Krail said.

The Wildcats have more than 150 players in the program, including a full freshmen team and coaching staff. Krail said they’re doing a great job of building the expectations and culture of working hard.

“We kind of reap the benefits when they get to us as juniors and seniors,” he said. “We’re in a pretty positive place right now, which is great.”

Both White and Ripp said no game this season is set in stone but it’s great to know that they’ll most likely have a full 10-game schedule. Last year, the Wildcats played just five games and there was no chance of going to the Central Coast Section playoffs. 

They’ll be looking forward to making another trip back to the postseason and winning their second championship in three years. 

“I just want to see how far we can take this thing,” White said. “I know our team’s really good and I just want to see us show the world that.” 

Los Gatos football schedule

Monterey Trail High at Soquel High, win (42-20)

At Liberty High, 9/3 at 7pm

At Live Oak High, 9/10 at 7:30pm

Half Moon Bay High, 9/17 at 7pm

Wilcox High*, 9/24 at 7pm

At Santa Clara High*, 10/1 at 7pm

Homestead High*, 10/8 at 7pm

At Palo Alto High*, 10/15 at 7pm

Mountain View High*, 10/28 at 7pm

At Milpitas High*, 11/5 at 7pm

*SCVAL-De Anza division play

Our Cover 3 Sports podcast looks at three counties-worth of youth sports.
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