Los Gatos High School football coach legend Butch Cattolico has been teaching math and coaching football for more than 40 years.
So it's no surprise to supporters of the highly regarded athletic program that Cattolico would announce this past week he would be retiring.
The sad news came after the team of about 50 players had just suffered a devastating loss when the Saint Francis High School Lancers took the Central Coast Section Division II title on Dec. 1 after a brutal game at Westmont High School. The score: 17-0.
Cattolico learned from the best how to be a great coach. He spent his first nine years as LGHS assistant coach under Charlie Wedemeyer.
This was his 26th year as head coach. On Oct. 14, 2011 he recorded his 250th victory, when the Los Gatos Wildcats beat Palo Alto. His record prior to this season included 16 league championships and 11 CCS titles.
"He was very consistent in the way he coached the kids," said Los Gatos resident Tracey Enfantino, whose son Teddy Enfantino played for Cattolico for four years and graduated last year when the Cats took home the CCS Title. "He didn't waiver ... whether it was a winning situation, or they were down in the score. He had the same demeanor being firm with the kids to go out there and hustle even if the score was way up."
Enfantino added: "He wasn't one of those coaches who jumped up and down if they won ... He never left his coaching face and all the kids respected him for the way he handled the team and the players."
Many of the parents of the current players attended LGHS, too. Enfantino's brother played for him during his first coaching years while he was assistant coach to Wedemeyer. "He's always coached with the same tenacity he had back then."
Coaches in the league respect the way he handled Los Gatos consistently year in and year out reaching the playoffs almost every year winning many championships because of his oversight of the team.
Cattolico only had just a few games to go before reaching former Saratoga High School coach's Benny Pierce's fame of having won the most CCS wins, Enfantino said.
The coach has been teaching math as well, from pre-algebra, to trigonometry, to pre-calculus. He was teacher of the year in 1984.
He was also inducted into Pittsburg High School Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1999.
He will finish out the school year as teacher, but the football season ended last weekend.
Who will be LGHS' next Butch Cattolico? Los Gatos football fans say he's had many proteges who could take his spot, such as assistant coaches in the varsity and junior varsity teams. However, they do concede that it will be a long time before anyone can come even close to the coach's stature. "It will be hard to fill his shoes," Enfantino said. "Nobody has heard anything yet."
Cattolico will be honored during an upcoming end-of-the season banquet before school lets out for winter break. "The games were very exciting and a lot of people in town attended them like community activities. Even after their kids graduated, parents want to be part of the team and watch the kids and support the coach. Every season we're going to the playoffs," said Enfantino.
Parent Bobbi Jo Wood, whose son Joey Wood played his first season with Cattolico this year, said: "He's been a fantastic coach and he will be sorely missed."