The best high school basketball team in the region is off to a rousing start without even slipping on uniforms or hightops.
But the assists and rewards were in abundance on Monday.
The Sheldon Huskies volunteered their time and muscle at the Elk Grove Food Bank, stacking boxes or handing out turkeys and canned items while offering smiles and good cheer. Lifting frozen birds did a lot to lift the spirits of those in need.
"I'm very impressed with these young men for donating their time," Sally Richards, 60, of Elk Grove said. "They have a new fan in me. I'll be watching them."
That's exactly why Huskies coach Joey Rollings rallied his team for this cause. With high-profile status comes more responsibility, he said. Sheldon is ranked No. 3 in the state in the preseason by CalHiSports.com and No. 4 by MaxPreps.com. The Huskies went 29-6 last season and return most of their roster.
"People know who these kids are, this team, and we wanted to give back," Rollings said. "We can do our part. We'll have these players visit elementary schools this year, too. It's all part of being a team and being a part of this community."
The athletes embrace the role.
"It's a couple of hours for a really good cause," said 2011-12 Bee Player of the Year D'Erryl Williams, a guard who last week signed a letter of intent, along with teammate Dakarai Allen, to play at San Diego State next year. "I just know I'm very thankful and blessed for what I have and our situation, and we know there's another side people who are not as fortunate."
Chuck McClelland, an Elk Grove Food Bank volunteer, said he first saw Williams compete as a freshman and has kept tabs on him ever since. To see Williams and the Huskies volunteer Monday moved him.
"I'm happy to see it," McClelland said. "That team's a big part of the community, and for them to be here is neat to see."
Ducky at Stanford
Stanford safety Jordan Richards had four tackles in the Cardinal's 17-14 overtime stunner over then-No. 1 Oregon on Saturday. The Folsom graduate has started all 11 games as a sophomore.
Otten to Senior Bowl
San Jose State tight end Ryan Otten, an NFL prospect from Del Oro, has been invited to the Senior Bowl in January. The Spartans (9-2) have won five straight and are looking to win 10 games for the first time since 1987.
Back in Loomis, Del Oro tailback Brandon Monroe rushed for 297 yards in a 21-10 victory over St. Mary's of Stockton on Friday in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II quarterfinals. Monroe, who has verbally committed to San Jose State, attended the Spartans' 20-14 victory over visiting BYU on Saturday night.
Otten's kid brother, Cody, is a defensive back at Del Oro.
Changing of the guard
John Gagliardi the winningest coach in college football history with a record of 489-138-11, including one at Hughes Stadium retired Monday at 86 after six decades at Division III St. John's in Minnesota. He won a small-college national championship at Hughes in the Camellia Bowl in 1963, and he won with simplicity. No tackling during practice. No coaching whistles. And no one called him "coach." He insisted on John.