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It's all instinct for Trinity's Patch Kulp

Posted: September 2, 2013 10:51 p.m.
Updated: September 2, 2013 10:51 p.m.

Trinity Classical Academy senior Patch Kulp led the team with 141 tackles last season while also playing running back.

 

There are five, count them, five players on the Trinity Classical Academy roster of 18 who played football at the organized youth level prior to coming to high school.

So there is quite a learning curve.

And one of the primary aspects of football is its physicality, which is something that a lot of novices fear.

One player on the Knights is so physical, loves to hit so much that he even made a teammate tear up in practice a couple of weeks back.

And that’s a good thing for the Knights.

The sort of physicality senior Patch Kulp brings to the Trinity football team benefits the squad not just on the plays he makes, but the plays others make.

“That’s why I think we have a good chance of winning (a CIF title) because of what Patch represents,” says Trinity head coach Mike Buchanan.

Kulp, a senior who led the team in tackles last year with 141 and was an All-CIF-Southern Section Division II 8-man selection, says his rough play in practice could toughen his teammates up.

“I think some guys are a little afraid at first,” he says. “But me hitting them and bringing the intensity will shape them and help them want to be intense.”

However, Buchanan says there have been times in practice when the 5-foot, 11-inch, 200-pounder, who he believes will play college football at the four-year level, has been asked to tone it down.

Yet this is who he is.

In the Trinity 2012-13 yearbook, he answered the question as to why he likes football so much.

His reply?

“Because I love to hit,” he says.

It’s not often to hear that from a kid at Trinity.

Buchanan acknowledges that there is a label attached to kids who play at the Christian-based school.

Because the kids are generally kind-hearted, there’s a thought that they might be softer than others, especially in comparison to the Santa Clarita Valley’s public school kids.

But Buchanan says that’s a misnomer.

“And I think that’s the biggest line of baloney ever,” says Buchanan, who has worked with thousands of Christian athletes as Western Regional Director of Campus Ministries with the faith-based Athletes in Action organization. “I’ve known a lot of guys who are believers. Reggie White — no one would call him soft. ... He’s a great example of that. He’s as tough as they come.”

Buchanan says Kulp is in that mold.

And like White, is a good teammate and well-liked.

And yes, he’s a kind kid. But on the football field, he’s something else.

“These are my instincts. I realize that’s who I am. I play instinctively,” Kulp says.

He loves to hit so much that his father Jeff notices there are things he does at home that display his passion for the game.

“It’s his outlet. We had to start letting him play tackle football earlier than what I preferred starting in fifth grade,” Jeff says. “One time before school, I saw him running into the refrigerator, headbutting it, running at it, growling at it like it’s an opponent. The other day in the hallway, we have a drying rack and he was using it as his lead blocker, pushing it to get around it.”

Kulp brings the same style of play to the offense.

He is a bruising running back who will be leaned on heavily in the offense.

Kulp ran for 707 yards and scored 10 rushing touchdowns last season.

He is a major reason why Trinity has played in consecutive Division II 8-man semifinal games.

Each time, the Knights lost.

If there’s a theme to the losses, it’s that the teams Trinity lost to — Cuyama Valley and Joshua Springs — were more physical than Trinity.

Kulp knows that well.

“There’s a whole different level they played on,” he says of the two teams. “We’re ready for that.”

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