The Grove Is Thriving

Despite being hit hard by graduation, Pleasant Grove HS is thriving this season, and much of the credit goes to Coach Cattolico...

I've written quite a few articles on Pleasant Grove High Schools' football players this past year, and why not, they are a great team with great players. After an incredible season last year, with only 1 loss in preseason, undefeated during league play and a defeat in the second round of the play offs everyone looked at Pleasant Grove (PG) to repeat that success. Unfortunately with PG graduating their superstars last season, Armond Armstead and Deonte Williams, it was thought to be a difficult task. They also lost Larry "Breeze" Bates, Michael Arnold, and Darren Powe-Reed who all graduated. Michael Arnold, a solid lineman, is currently enjoying a very successful season playing at American River Junior College and will hopefully catch the eye of a 4 year college program. These players helped make up the most solid football team that school, and area in general, will see in a long time from a second year varsity program. They put the school on the map.

Today Pleasant Grove High School(PG) is a third year varsity high school team and has accomplished something truly amazing. They have captured the Delta Rive League Championship for the second year in a row, by beating the undefeated Folsom Bull Dogs last Friday. The Bulldogs were ranked number 3 in the area and PG a respectable 15 by the Sacramento Bee newspaper. Now, you can give praise to the players, as we should, but in his case Coach Cattolico should definetly be congratulated. It's one thing to have talent on the field and another to know how to use it. Well, Coach Cattolico has both. He knows how to use the talent he has at hand and combine it with his own talent as a coach. This is a combination that can't be overlooked and will undoubtedly catch the eye of other high school programs that envy the talents of a well seasoned winning coach. It would appear that Coach Cattolico is destined for bigger things. I'm talking about coaching college football. Just as many of his players have moved on to the next level, it's only a matter of time for this coach to get that call, if he hasn't already.

Coach Cattolico with Deonte Williams last season.

Coach Cattolico has a great aptitude when it comes to "Situational Awareness" on the "Grid Iron Battlefield".

Situational Awareness is sometimes defined as:

"Knowledge and understanding of the current situation which promotes timely, relevant and accurate assessment of friendly, competitive and other operations within the battlespace in order to facilitate decision making. An informational perspective and skill that fosters an ability to determine quickly the context and relevance of events that are unfolding."

I'm not making his stuff up. This is straight out of the U.S. Army field manual. Without Situational Awareness, you cannot deliver the desired outcome of increasing the teams battle capability by redirecting what they are doing out on the field. This means calling the right plays, knowing how to use the clock and timeouts, placing the right mix of players on the field. This is all crucial to the core mission of winning that game. You can teach situational awareness, but the greats are born with it. It comes down to instincts. Coach Cattolico being the son of Butch Cattolico, a well known winning coach at Los Gatos High School, can only help.

I've watched Coach Cattolico do his thing for the past 4 years and no one comes close to the level of situational awareness that he has. Of course he's flanked with great assistant coaches, like Phil Pagett, who are awesome in their own right. Just watch any game they play, i.e., Pleasant Grove was masterful in their ball control and time of possession in beating teams like Folsom. It's a team sport both on the field and on the sidelines, for Cattolico has put together a great team in his coaching staff.

Assistant Coach Phil Pagett

Now let's move on to the team and some of the players to watch as PG heads into the post season:

Jalen Saunders #7, WR/DB, junior, 5'10" – 145 #'s. Has 11 receptions @ 27.8 yds. Per reception. Jalen also has 14 carries for 108 yds, equaling 13.5 yds per carry. He definetly needs to get the ball more because of his big play capabilities.

Michael Madkins #3, RB/DB, 5'7" – 160 #'s, Senior transfer from Valley High – following the footsteps of Deonte Williams. Has 213 carries for 1,356 yds = 6.37 yds a carry and 12 TD's. A consistent yds per carry for the last 700 plus yards.

Darius Powe-Reed #17, RB/LB, 5' 8" – 175#'s, a junior and younger sibling of Darron- Powe-reed – who was an integral part of Pleasant Grove's success last season. If genetics means anything to you then keep an eye on this kid. Let's check out his stats. Darius has 75 tackles, averaging 8.3 tackles per game. A consistent producer as well.

Russell Vonschoech #1, WR/DB, 5'6" – 155 #'s, a senior, has 24 carries for 161 yds at 17.9 yds/carry. He also has 11 receptions for 168 yds, at 18.7 yds per game. On defense he's 66 tackles at 7.3 tackles per game. He's a great addition to any team's toolbox, since he's a versatile player.

I had the pleasure of meeting a great orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Ting, a couple of years ago. Dr. Ting has worked on many great athletes such as Yao Ming, Terrell Owens, Barry Bonds and Tiger Woods. He's the who's who when it comes to sports medicine. Well, Dr. Ting knows Coach Cattolico and gave him a great compliment. Dr. Ting said that with Cattolico as the head Coach at PG hey won't lose, PG will be a winning team, and he was right.

Pleasant Grove High School football teams Quarterback might be the one making the final tactical decision, play calling, on the field but he's backed up by an incredible resource on the sideline. A coaching staff that's more like an Operations Center that's quickly analyzing what's going on to provide strategic information, and personnel, to the field general, QB, as he marches his football army down the field.

As they prepare for the post season, there's nothing sweeter then saying "been there and done that". PG can definetly say that when it comes to post season play and that experience will help them greatly this year. They know what to expect and are more confident of themselves than last year.

Pleasant Grove plays Jesuit High School at home this Friday and I will be there to watch. With Pleasant Grove guaranteed a play off birth this game will be played for pride on both sides. It appears that Pleasant Grove has a team that was not only built for the regular season, but the post season as well. They are ready to play hard and give their all.

It's been said that Rome wasn't built in a day, and the same goes for winning a section championship. But Pleasant Grove High School definetly has what it takes to get there this year. For Rome it was one brick at a time, for Pleasant Grove its one win at a time. In the end Rome was built and I'm sure we'll be saying the same of PG's Section Championship.

Pleasant Grove High School Football – Home of the red, white and blue – and home of the Eagles…

Head Coach Cattolico looks on with intensity during a game.

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