Joe Cattolico is familiar, very familiar with the Sheldon/Pleasant Grove Community Stadium. As head coach at Pleasant Grove High School his football teams were dominant in home contests played at that facility, going 31-3 in Cattolico's final five seasons at the Eagles' helm, 2009-2013.
Now, Sheldon High School is hoping that home field magic will switch to their favor starting in the fall of 2016. That's because the Huskies have hired Cattolico to replace the retiring Herbie Berry as its next head varsity football coach.
"It's an outstanding school and has an outstanding athletic program and it competes in a outstanding, tough league," he said.
The announcement was made official Wednesday that the Princeton graduate who notched successful tenures at high schools in San Jose and over nine seasons at Pleasant Grove will take over a football program that has mired at the bottom of the Delta League for a while.
Though Cattolico had been contacted by many schools wanting him to join their staff the past couple years, he's always wanted to keep his family in Elk Grove.
"We like Elk Grove, we like the schools, the neighborhoods, "he explained. "Not that all the other places aren't nice too, but we're happy to professionally stay in this community because we like it."
Now instead of hurrying up the hill to the north of the Sheldon/Pleasant Grove stadium and onto the buses with his players, Cattolico can walk leisurely to the locker room at the top of that rise. That's something he always wanted as a football coach, to play home games on the school campus.
In Cattolico Sheldon hired a man who likes to run the ball out of an I-formation, passing only to keep a defense honest, play a tough defense and keep things fairly ordinary. But, ordinary seems to work, according to Cattolico, especially in the Delta League.
"We will be similar schematically to what we've been in the past," he promised. "It will be stuff that will look familiar. Some of the schools, Elk Grove and Grant, are similar and they are obviously outstanding. We will have our work cut out to execute to the caliber those guys do."
He resigned his football post at Pleasant Grove after the 2013 season when he was turned down for the job as the school's athletic director after Jeff Caton retired. Cattolico has continued to teach social sciences at PG and has spent his Friday nights visiting football stadiums throughout the area.
Alongside has been his father, Butch, a retired football coach who was successful for many years at Los Gatos High School. Now, the elder Cattolico will be on the sidelines again. Joe has already hired Butch as his top assistant at Sheldon.
"He was an easy hire, so he can't say no," Joe laughed. "My mom won't let him."
Also adding approval to the return to coaching was Cattolico's wife, Natasha.
"She's excited about it," he said. "It wouldn't be happening if she wasn't."
He hasn't been assured a teaching position at Sheldon as of now. But, he is planning on making his presence known on that campus in the spring running off-season workouts after school.
"The first job will be for me getting to know the kids and for the kids to get to know me," Cattolico said. "Relationships and chemistry are critical, so those things are first and foremost before any of the football-specific things."