Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cattolico Still A Very Interested Observer

These days he’s at one son’s flag football game. Then the next day he’s rooting on his other son on the soccer field.

Former Pleasant Grove head coach Joe Cattolico is staying busy this fall, his first one since he began teaching that he hasn’t been coaching high school football.

He still is teaching social science at Pleasant Grove, but every Friday night he and father Butch, a long-time coach at Las Gatos, are in the stands at one of the area games. And, like any football coach, they are analyzing each team and keeping a mental notebook for that day, which could be as soon as next year, when both of them once again return to the sidelines.

In the meantime, though, being a fan and a dad isn’t too bad.
Joe Cattolico, now a very knowledgeable observer

“I do miss the day-to-day part (of coaching),” he admitted. “That part of it is pretty special. Getting to go out on the field with the coaches and the kids on a daily basis and practice and work on things. Friday night sort of ends up being the show-and-tell part of it for the community, which is pretty neat. The teaching really is Monday through Thursday.”

With two big games Friday night in the Delta League, involving four of its top five teams, Cattolico says he and dad will flip a coin to see which game they’ll attend.

“I think there’s two really good ball games this Friday night,” he said. “(Monterey Trail vs. Elk Grove) and Jesuit/Franklin are both going to be ball games that will come down to two or three plays, a little bit of luck and a little bit of who makes a play here and who makes a play there. It’s pretty hard to pick the outcome of those ball games.”

League-leader Grant will be at Sheldon; the Huskies winless in the Delta.

Cattolico says the Pacers are the team that has impressed him the most this fall.

“Pretty much they look like the traditional Grant team, one that looks like a college team,” he laughed. “What really stands out to me is the depth. There are other outstanding football teams in the Delta League, but gosh, I haven’t seen anybody else with the depth of talent Grant has.”

“They have the ability to put fresh bodies on the field without skipping a beat,” Cattolico observed. “I get the feeling that if a couple of their key people would get hurt that wouldn’t make a big difference for them.”

Cattolico says the other teams in the Delta League have several players who play on both sides of the football and if one of those boys went out it would make a significant impact on those squads.

“I’ve seen all the teams in the Delta League now and with those teams if they lost someone there would be some challenges. No so with Grant, they keep bringing some guys out,” he said.

He admits he hasn’t seen Folsom this season except on video and knew they’d be special this season, and thinks if the Pacers and Bulldogs were to meet somewhere in the playoffs, it would be an outstanding game.

“I think that would be an interesting (game), “ Cattolico said. “From what it looks like (Grant) is right on that bubble, but they could be in Division II. However it turns out, I think that would be an outstanding matchup. If you had to hold me to who the two best teams are based on the teams I’ve seen in person and the teams I’ve seen on film, they would be the two.”

Folsom, because of the Section’s continued success rule, must compete this season in Division I.

Cattolico, like most observers, thinks the surprise team this year in the Delta is Monterey Trail. The Mustangs won its first five games, but has lost back-to-back games to Franklin and Grant. Cattolico has coached against Mustang head coach T.J. Ewing for many years and knows he has a way to get the most out of his players.

“He always puts a good product on the field, obviously,” he noted. “They had been down a couple years from where they were a few years back when they were really exceptional. They came out (last Friday against Grant) and I thought really controlled that ball game, had a couple chances to score in the first half and have a little wider margin. But, you knew at some point the tables were going to turn.”

Grant, down 15-14 at halftime to Monterey Trail, scored 40 points in the second half and ran past the Mustangs, 54-29.

Though the Pacers are in the drivers’ seat to win the league championship, Cattolico says there is much that can happen the final three weeks of the regular season.

“It’s a matter of who is healthier,” he noted. “No one is 100 percent right now in a high school football season. That’s sort of insider information. Only the guys coaching and playing on those teams right now will know that.”

Football Playoffs Loom

There are just three weeks left in the high school football season and rapidly the post-season picture is beginning to take on some form.

Undefeated Grant is atop the Delta League at 7-0 overall and looks like it is well on its way to a second straight league championship unless Jesuit can derail them in week ten.  The Marauders at 6-1 also look like a playoff lock. The Delta could actually get three additional squads - Elk Grove, Monterey Trail and Franklin – all with 5-2 marks into the post-season.

Since 2009 the football playoffs have been determined by total wins for each participant. Plus, each team must have at least two league victories to qualify.

This means six wins probably puts you into the playoffs and maybe, just maybe, one or two 5-5 teams could qualify, too.

Sitting right now at five wins is Cosumnes Oaks, the Capital Valley Conference leader. Almost assured of a place in the playoffs, the Wolfpack may for the first time be competing in Division I.

Under the current Sac-Joaquin Section playoff setup the 16 biggest schools by enrollment that qualify for the post-season are slotted into Division I, the next 16 biggest schools into Division II and the next 16 schools into Division III.

Divisions IV, V and VI will each have eight-team brackets beginning this year.

Cosumnes Oaks, with its enrollment listed at 2,037, could be inserted into D-I depending on how many of the larger schools win six or more games. If the playoffs ended now, the Wolfpack would be with the big schools, as would Grant.

The Pacers at 1,990 students has a better chance of being in Division II come the post-season. However, if Grant takes the D-II title and Folsom grabs D-I, those two could face off in the CIF NorCal Division I Regional game. The winner would then have the right to represent northern California in the State Bowl Game Dec. 19 in Carson.

One other interesting note is that through the first seven games, defending D-II champion Del Oro finds itself with just three wins. They must win out to assure a playoff spot.

Also just hanging on is Oak Ridge, the Division I runner-up of a year ago. Now in the Sierra Football League, the Trojans have just four wins.

Levin Finishes Tenth In Las Vegas

Spencer Levin’s strong start to the PGA Tour’s 2014-2015 season continued last weekend when the Elk  Grove golfer finished tied for tenth in the Shriners’
Hospital for Children Open in Las Vegas.
Levin carded a eight-under-par 63 in Friday’s second round, his best 18 holes since he joined the Tour four years ago. Though he shot a three-under-par 68 and a two-under-par 69 in the weekend rounds, he was still seven shots behind Ben Martin, the tournament winner.

In Saturday’s round he holed a 152-yard approach shot on the par-four tenth hole for an eagle two.

That’s the first top ten finish for Levin in a couple years and has him now in 17th place in the FedEx Cup standings.

He finished 21st the previous week at the Frye’s.Com Open in Napa.

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