It is now OK to officially stamp the Sheldon Huskies as legitimate.
Worthy of their Bee No. 14 ranking that’s sure to rise, and worthy of their quest to compete for a Delta League championship and be mentioned as an elite in the area.
With a new head coach, a new system and a sudden culture of success, Sheldon beat No. 10 Monterey Trail 27-22 on Friday night at Mark Macres Memorial Stadium.
A full house was treated to a terrific game between brewing rivals in the Elk Grove Unified School District – the schools located less than 3 miles apart on ever-hectic Calvine Road.
Sheldon struck on the first play, when Chancellor LaChapelle threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Alex Cook, whom he later connected with for a 9-yard score. LaChapelle and tailback Graylon Lindsey ran out the final 2:27 after Monterey Trail had three dropped passes on its final drive, and the Huskies celebrated their first 4-0 start since 2009 and second since the school opened in 1997.
Standing as a proud pop afterward was first-year coach Joe Cattolico, who isn’t new to this sort of excitement by any stretch. He won championships in San Jose and built nearby Pleasant Grove into a regional power by running the ball and emphasizing effort and defense. And his proud pop and mentor, Butch Cattolico, a 250-game winner at Los Gatos High in the Central Coast Section, is thrilled to be along for the ride.
At Thursday’s practice, Joe Cattolico joked that his father “was guessing” as a play caller. That sort of good vibe has Sheldon thinking big after four years as a sleeping giant. Cattolico also stressed to his players to be good students, to apply themselves.
The Huskies have steady stars with LaChapelle, Cook and Lindsey, each of high character and motor. Cook is a hard hitter on defense and is headed to Washington on scholarship. He’s a complete player who can run the ball, catch it and cover on defense.
LaChapelle and Lindsey are equally known for their good-guy demeanor and their fierce ability to compete.
The players have welcomed the Cattolico combo.
“They’re great coaches and we’re lucky to have them,” said Lindsey, whose 1-yard touchdown run with 7:38 left gave Sheldon the lead for good.
Said Cattolico, “This is a really good group of kids. It’s not easy to come onto a situation where there’s a new coach, especially for the experienced players used to a different system. But they’ve been really accepting, and they’ve been awesome.”
Cattolico said previous Sheldon head coaches Herbie Berry, Josh Crabtree and Ed Lombardi have been “100 percent supportive, and you don’t always see that when a new guy comes in.”
The Cattolicos know Monterey Trail coaches T.J. Ewing and Rick Arcuri well, dating to their Central Coast Section days last decade. The respect among them is immense.
“No surprise that Joe and Butch have Sheldon doing well because they’re great coaches, great guys,” Ewing said. “Look out for that program.”
And look out for Monterey Trail (3-1), particularly team leader Robert Holt. The senior quarterback scored on a 65-yard run but was undone on his final drive with dropped passes.
Aztlan Lopez hit Bishop Brown for a halfback-option touchdown, and Lopez’s two-point conversion run gave Monterey Trail a 22-21 lead with 5:20 to go in the third.
The Delta League is deep with these two, Elk Grove, Grant, Jesuit, Davis and Pleasant Grove. Davis upset No. 2 Elk Grove 16-14 on Friday with a last-play field goal.