PARADISE, Ind. (WEHT) – Last season, Castle’s defense was a force to be reckoned with. They allowed just over 11 points per game, and ranked 7th in the state in scoring defense.
Some of those defensive starters are gone. But the standard at Castle is still intact.
“We want to win the SIAC,” said senior Evan Reff. “It hasn’t been done in 9 years. At Castle, we always want to win a state championship. We’re always thinking about that. The good thing about our team is that our standard never changes from year to year, so we have to uphold that standard. So whatever it takes to get there.”
What it could take is replicating the prolific defense the Knights possessed last season en route to an 8-4 season and regional championship.
Knights head coach Doug Hurt said he believes last year’s defense was the best in school history, but this year’s team has the chance to build on that legacy. There are some holes to replace, particularly on the defensive line, But with five defensive starters back, there’s certainly potential.
But don’t forget about the offense. Peyton Guerzini burst onto the scene last year with over 1500 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore. He’s back for his junior season, and so is his quarterback Cameron Tilly.
With returners back in some key skill positions, and a loaded defense, Castle seems confident they can be a force in not only the SIAC, but the state.
“You can’t just bargain on last year,” said senior Daviontae Hughes. “You kind of have to sit back and be like, ‘Well, that team is gone; what can we do with this team to make this team the best it can be?’ We think we can get back there, and we honestly think we can get to state this year.”
“Coming off of last year going to semi-state, you really feel like you have a chance to prove something this year,” Guerzini said. “We still feel like we’re underrated and feel like we’re disrespected, and that we haven’t won the SIAC title in nine years, but the main goal is state.”
But all of that is just talk. If the Knights truly hope to advance to the 5A state championship later this year, it will come down to how they prepare in July.
“You can say, ‘Yes we want to win the conference, and yes, we want to win a sectional,’ but I think if you look at it on a day-to-day basis, and you’re looking for daily improvement, then the winning takes care of itself,” Hurt said. “That’s what we’ve got to be about everyday, is coming out here and looking to improve and hone our craft and get better at what we do, then the winning takes care of itself.”
The Knights will open up their season at home on Aug. 20 against North.
(This story was originally published on July 21, 2021)