Arik Armstead was a can’t-miss visitor Monday at Pleasant Grove High School. The San Francisco 49er was at his alma mater in what former Eagles’ football coach Joe Cattolico described as a “collaboration between cable network BET and the NFL Network.”
Armstead did spend a few moments with his former coach before heading off campus with TV production crews in tow.
“Arik is the kind of guy who, well, Arik is so unassuming you’re not going to get this from Arik, he’s not that kind of person, but it seems like his playing time has grown,” Cattolico, who is a history teacher at the school, said. “My observation is that he’s looked pretty good when he’s been in there.”
Armstead was in at defensive tackle just about every play during the New York Giants’ game winning drive in the final seconds of Sunday’s 30-27 Niner loss.
“Defensively, (the 49ers) have played pretty well all season,” Cattolico said. “Their struggles have been on the other side of the ball.”
The 49ers are 1-4 this season, having lost their last four games.
Cattolico heard the comments and criticisms from football fans questioning Armstead’s selection in the first round by San Francisco out of Oregon University.
“I am certainly no expert at football at that level, but I think he’s demonstrated he’s every bit the player that’s warranted being picked at that spot,” Cattolico claimed. “He’s just going to keep getting better.”
|Arik Armstead walking into NY's MetLife Stadium Sunday|
When he is not coaching his son’s flag football team, Cattolico has spent evenings in the stands at one or perhaps two local high school games each week. He says he’s a bit surprised at how good Elk Grove has shown in its first six games of the year.
“I think the general football public expected them to be this good,” Cattolico said. “I knew they would be a good football team, but this year they haven’t been challenged at all on the scoreboard.”
Elk Grove, at 6-0, has already a 35-point win over defending Division II champion Grant and a 49-point victory last weekend over Jesuit.
“They have the look right now of somebody that will be really tough to beat,” Cattolico observed.
To this point, Herd running back Ryan Robards has 1143 yards rushing and has scored 141 points.
“I’m sure he’s ahead of a lot of teams in the Delta League in scoring,” Cattolico said.
He’s correct. Davis has scored 134 points and Sheldon 89 points in their first six games.
“What is impressive is what he does in all three facets of the game – kicking the ball, returning the ball, playing defense, playing offense – the only guy in my time that I’ve seen have as wide ranging an impact on the game was John Boyett when he was at Napa,” Cattolico said.
Boyett went on to play collegiately at Oregon.
“In that Grant game, well, no one can win a game single-handedly, but he was close,” Cattolico laughed.
Robards had six TD’s in the Herd’s 42-7 victory – three rushing, one on a punt return, one on a fumble return and one on an interception return.
Also impressive to Cattolico this season, now just past the halfway mark, is his own school.
“I think you could call Pleasant Grove a surprise,” he said. “They’ve beat a couple teams that beat them last year – Jesuit and Monterey Trail – so they could be a little bit of a surprise. I think right now, even though there’s a lot of football to be played, they could be fighting with Franklin for that third spot (in the league).”
The top four teams in the Delta League qualify for the post-season.
This Friday Pleasant Grove (2-1 in the Delta, 3-3 overall) plays at Elk Grove.