Colts Stampeding Like Wild Herd Of Old In First Year In 5A - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Colts Stampeding Like Wild Herd Of Old In First Year In 5A

October 22nd, 2018 SanTan Sun News
Colts Stampeding Like Wild Herd Of Old In First Year In 5A
Sports and Recreation

By Joel Viss


Opening with a loss is never a good thing, especially when expectations are high for a new team in a tough division.

Casteel, up to 5A after an undefeated 3A state-title season in 2017, met Centennial, winner of three of the last four 5A football championships, in Week 1, and it was not pretty for the Colts.

“I think that was a great opener for us,” Casteel outside linebacker Cameron Brown said of the 42-19 pounding. “It really opened us to the best in the state, honestly. Pound for pound, any division, I probably would say they’re the best. So physicality and speed, we had to catch up like this (snaps fingers). We saw what it’s like.”

Casteel won five of its next six games and began to look like the team that dominated the lower division. Only one-loss Williams Field beat the Colts, who now are positioned to make their first 5A playoff run.

The school opened in 2015. Casteel’s first varsity team, with no seniors, went 9-2 in 2016 before the 14-0 journey that ended with its first football state championship a year ago.

Then came the two-division promotion. After the rough beginning, the Colts now are holding their own.

“It’s not so much proving stuff to everybody else in the state, it’s to prove stuff to ourselves,” said Casteel quarterback Gunner Cruz. “We took some bumps and bruises along the way, Centennial and Williams Field, but we correct those mistakes in film the next morning and we get ready to go again.”

Cruz, the only quarterback Casteel has known, has a spectacular 29-4 career record. He was the first player in the program to receive an offer from a Power Five school and has committed to Washington State.

Cruz acknowledges that he struggled early and believes that he held the team back until the playmakers around him picked him up.

“I think we are all on the same page now,” Cruz said. “Week 1, I personally made a couple of mistakes, trying to force some stuff that wasn’t there. Our coaches have really driven into me to take what the defense gives you, and we just put the ball into our playmaker’s hands: Zach Nelson, Brandt Goodwin, Khyheem Waleed, Colin Gapen, and great things happen for us.”

Bobby Newcombe, a former Nebraska quarterback, who was Casteel’s receivers coach last season, now is head coach.

“Just continuing to prepare our kids and work on our coaching dynamic, getting all of us on the same page and just having some time to work together,” Newcombe said of how Casteel got its groove back.

Although the roster is the same, Casteel is a different team now from that nasty opener, Newcombe said. The Colts adjusted to the heightened physicality of 5A and learned what it takes to win at that level.

“We’re trying to prove that we’re not just a 3A state champion,” Brown said. “I hate when a team says, ‘Oh, they won in 3A, it’s nothing.’ We’re here in 5A now and we’re still beating their teams.”

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