Friday, April 04, 2014

Cattolico Resigns At PG; Belden Hired As A.D.

Pleasant Grove High School has decided to hire Bruce Belden as the school's athletic director, replacing Jeff Caton.

One of the first jobs Belden will have to do is hire a head varsity football coach. For the second time in about 12 months Joe Cattolico has resigned his post.

Last time, he reconsidered the resignation and asked for his job back. That was mainly because his father, Butch, resigned his long-time football coaching job at Los Gatos High School and wanted to move to Elk Grove. Joe desired to coach alongside his father and that was a reality during the 2013 season with Butch coaching the offense and Joe the defense.

But, this time, Cattolico said Thursday night, he’ll stick by his decision to quit.
Joe Cattolico resigned as Pleasant Grove High School's football coach Friday

“I applied for and interviewed for the athletic director’s position and the school decided to go in a different direction so I am going in a different direction myself,” he said.

The current athletic director, Jeff Caton, made it known two months ago he didn’t want the job any longer, so Cattolico and Belden applied for the post. Belden was selected Thursday by school principal Hank Meyer.

Cattolico, who has been Pleasant Grove’s only varsity football coach in the school’s nine-year history, didn’t have any comment on Belden’s appointment instead of him.

“I am not retiring (from football),” Cattolico said. “I am still interested in coaching football. That may not mean in the fall, but likely in the future.”

In the meantime, the Princeton University grad plans on teaching at the school in the fall.

My plans right now are to teach U.S. History at Pleasant Grove,” he said, “Who knows, you may see me on the sidelines of the games just watching them this fall.”

Under Cattolico the Eagles’ football program has grown into a model of consistency and excellence on the field. No other Division I or Division II school has won at least one playoff game in each of the past seven years. Pleasant Grove is the only school to brag of that fact.

The Eagles were Division I runner-ups in 2008 and in 2011, winning a Sac-Joaquin Section championship in 2010.  Cattolico’s coaching record was 84-25. In Pleasant Grove’s first varsity season, 2006, the Eagles went 5-5. The record bested .500 every year since.

“I’ve had the fortune to coach alongside a fantastic group of coaches and, of course, a fantastic group of young men over those nine years,” Cattolico said.

Five times the Eagles had ten or more wins. In most of those seasons under Cattolico the Delta River League championship was won by either the Eagles or Folsom.

In recent seasons the Eagles had problems beating the Bulldogs or Oak Ridge, the club that knocked them out of the 2013 post-season. Cattolico has a theory why.

“It’s their depth at those foothill schools,” he said. “We have in Elk Grove Unified every bit as good football players, but those football programs have more depth of talent than we have.”

He attributes that to the fact there are now nine EGUSD high schools.

“We’re all just a little thin,” he said. “Especially as our seasons get longer and we have to win more and more games to win a Section championship. It seems as though the seasons for all the teams in our school district end in game 12 or game 13.”

With his future in education a bit up in the air, the one place, he claims, you won’t find him is coaching in the collegiate ranks.

“High school is the highest level I intend to coach,” he said. “There are some things about coaching college that don’t appeal to me. I really like coaching at this level.”

And, though a proponent of public education, Cattolico admits he may consider a coaching job at one of the area’s private schools. Christian Brothers recently hired former Jesuit head man Dan Carmazzi, while Jesuit’s Marlon Blanton has quickly built the Marauders back into a formidable program. Plus, Bradshaw Christian’s Drew Rickert isn’t going anywhere too soon.

“It will depend on the situation,” Cattolico said. “I’ve always worked in public schools so I’d have to do some more research, but it certainly is a possibility.”

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