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Grizzlies’ Andrews looking forward to matchup with Pleasant Grove star Armstead

By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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No trash talking, no threats, no promises, no newspaper clippings to pin in the locker room as motivation.

But yes, Gavin Andrews is looking forward to playing across the line from Arik Armstead in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Sacramento State.

“It’s me and Armstead,” Andrews said amid celebrations on the field and in the seats Friday night after fifth-seeded Granite Bay High School defeated top-seeded Lincoln 28-21 in a semifinal in Stockton. “Can’t wait to play a DI recruit, especially one as big as him.”

Andrews is listed on the roster at 6 feet 6 inches and 320 pounds. He’s an NCAA Division I recruit. He was the Sierra Foothill League’s Lineman of the Year last season as a junior. He anchors an offensive front that has helped balance Granite Bay go for more than 4,800 total yards this season. Andrews also has spent time on the defensive line during the playoffs helping stuff the run.

Armstead is listed on Pleasant Grove’s roster at 6-7, 285 and is considered one of the top recruits in the nation. He visited No. 2 Alabama and Notre Dame this fall. Everybody wants the young man who has helped pave the way for the Eagles to roll up more than 5,700 yards and score 707 points in 13 games.

Both are as delightful, courteous and well-spoken as they are big.

“It will be fun playing against another big guy that’s going to end up playing at a high level,” Armstead said of Andrews before dinner Sunday at the Sacramento State Alumni Center, where section officials gathered coaches and players from the 12 section finalists. “We have to come out ready to play the game.”

Armstead said the Eagles have grown more dimensional on offense this season with quarterback Cody Demps, D.J. Dunn, brothers Desmond and Brandon Lewis, Isaiah Saunders and high-scoring running back Mark Jenkins.

“Last year, we were running a lot, but this year … a bunch of guys have been stepping up,” Armstead said. “Of course, Mark Jenkins is playing well.”

Armstead has just 37 tackles this season, mostly because teams stay away from him. He moved from tackle to nose early this season “to disrupt some more stuff.”

Granite Bay coach Ernie Cooper said it should be fun watching two players of their caliber playing in a championship game.

“I mean, these are the two top linemen in our section and maybe in Northern California, and who knows, maybe in the whole state,” Cooper said.

This magic moment

After stopping Lincoln on four downs inside the 5-yard line with just over a minute left to clinch Friday’s game, Cooper noted the team and its fans stayed on the field for a long time afterward relishing the moment.

“You just don’t get that situation too often when you’re playing the No. 1 seed, they got the ball on the 1-yard line going in, and your defense stuffs them four plays in a row to preserve the win,” he said. “It was just a magical moment, and it’s something you’ll talk about obviously at the banquet. We’ll show that on the screen quite a bit that night.”

Joe kid

Cooper prefaced a story about Pleasant Grove coach Joe Cattolico by saying he knew Cattolico didn’t want to hear it again.

Cooper has known Cattolico’s dad, Butch, the longtime coach at Los Gatos, for several years. Cooper said young Joe would attend an annual clinic in San Francisco with his dad.

“Joe would be there sitting next to his dad, 6, 7, 8 years old, and he’d have a notepad and he’s taking notes,” Cooper said. “That’s a football coach right there. He’s done a great job at the school he’s at.”

Joe Cattolico said one of the first things he did when he got the call to start the program at Pleasant Grove was to call Cooper and ask about “what he had done and what you do to try to build a football program from scratch like he did (at Granite Bay) and have so much success.”

As for the story, it’s true. The notepads exist.

Said Cattolico, “My mother pulled them out of the attic a couple of Christmases back.”

Contact Bill Poindexter at billp@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.