NEWBURGH, Ind. (WEHT) – Castle Football has flown slightly under the radar this season when you compare them to a couple of their conference opponents. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t been dominant, it just means they haven’t tipped their full hand yet.
After ending the regular season on a three-game win streak, head coach Doug Hurt has thought a lot about the ‘rest vs. rust’ factor when it comes to off weeks in football. Although he assures it’s not the latter for his Knights.
“I’m going to take rest over rust any day and that’s something I’ve come to believe over the years here,” Hurt said. “And, you know, I think our first three sectional titles were without the 5A-bye. It was before we went to the sixth class. But I think the last five we’ve handled very similarly, either two to three days of practice, very short risk practices. In the last few years it’s been two, and getting guys fresh, especially mentally, but not only mentally but physically healthy. I think [rest] far outweighs any negatives of, you know, not practicing or being a little bit rusty. I feel like we come out healthy. Today was our first practice back, you know, given we had a two day practice week last week. Our kids were excited, ready to go. And I really attribute the way we’ve handled the bye with our football staff and our players to our playoff success in recent years.”
The offense for Castle is stacked from head to toe. With senior Caden Gordon under center filling out his shoes with impressive offensive numbers and the running back committee of Antonio Harris Jr. and Max McCool each with over 800 rushing yards, Hurt has the pick of the litter when it comes to offensive weapons.
“Between Antonio, and obviously Max too, two very formidable backs each having a different or a unique set of traits that I think they bring to the table,” Hurt said. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about our offensive line and our tight ends that we have blocking for them. Our offensive coordinator Jeff Bennett and his offensive staff do a tremendous job creating opportunities for those guys multiple formations, motions, tight end trades to try to get those guys in the best position to run the football. And then obviously the play action off of our run game has been really, really dynamic for us. But I think it all starts with the run and winning in the trenches and those two backs have been outstanding as the season has worn on and we hope that that continues.”
The defense for Castle has been fantastic as well with Gavin Leach at 111 tackles on the year and the supporting cast of Benny Patterson, Trey Ward, Landon Holder and Jahlon Hendrix, this team is primed for yet another sectional championship.
They might have to go through the team that started its season off with a loss, the North Huskies. But before they can get there, or it can be a possibility, the Knights will play in the first round of the 5A sectionals on the road this week.
“You get to this point in the season and I think you ‘dance with the girl that you took to prom,'” Hurt joked. “So we try to do the things that have gotten us this far and you know, that we’ve had success with, you know, you don’t reinvent the wheel. I certainly don’t think you try a whole lot of new things. Now, that’s not to say that every football coach is, you know, not going to have a wrinkle or two, but your core beliefs, the offensive [and] defensive systems that you’ve used all season, you know, you continue to improve and work on and get better. I think our practice schedule remains largely, largely unchanged. The core of our offensive and defensive structures, our kicking game, the things that we’ve been successful at, you try to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. You try to go back to the drawing board on some things that maybe you weren’t as happy with. But championship teams aren’t going to get to this point in the season and wheel out all new systems or make great changes. I think you really have to continue to just tweak and manipulate and work on the fundamentals that have gotten you this far in the season.”
Castle plays New Albany on the road this Friday night at 6:30 p.m. CT.