Gunner Cruz throws a pass earlier this season against Yuma Catholic. 

File Photo by Greg Macafee

In just their second year as a varsity football program the Casteel Colts are heading to the 3A state championship on Saturday at Campo Verde high school.

“It’s exciting for our school and campus and I know they are happy for us but I am also happy for our admin team who has really helped us get here,” head coach Spencer Stowers said on Tuesday during media day.

The Colts head into the state championship with a 13-0 record and will take on No. 1-seed Pusch Ridge. The Lions, who are also 13-0, have only allowed 94 points this season while scoring 628 points.

They are led by senior quarterback Christian Fetsis, who has thrown for over 1,100 yards and rushed for over 1,110 yards this season while finding the endzone 31 times. But the Lions also have four other rushers over 500 yards rushing on the season and two of those with double-digit touchdown totals.

Defensively the Lions are led by Mitch Maas, who has racked up 110 tackles and four interceptions this season while deflecting 12 more passes. Tamerat Mcleod has also been big for the Lions as well picking off five passes, and making 39 tackles. While both defenses have been solid, the Colts have only allowed 98 points, look for this game to be a high-scoring affair.

The Colts have put up 692 points this season, but have been somewhat pressured through the playoffs to this point. After only allowing one team to score more than 20 points in a game this season, the Colts allowed both Florence (26) and American Leadership Academy (21) to put points on the scoreboard. But, Stowers believes that his team has responded well to the adversity.

“It’s something we work on in practice each and every week,” Stowers said. “We haven’t played the best teams but we’ve made sure to stay consistent in our preparation during the week. We’ll go ones on ones, so there’s a lot of competition in practice and we try to those types of environments in our practice. But, ya know when it comes down to it, our players did a great job on both sides of the ball through those games.”

A Gunner Cruz led offense has been the key for the Colts this season. The junior gun-slinger has thrown for 2,862 yards and 37 touchdowns, while only throwing five interceptions. He’s found two key receivers in Brandt Goodwin and Zach Nelson. The duo has caught a combined 100 passes for 1,722 yards and 16 touchdowns this season.

The Colts have been strong on the ground as well. Junior Mack Johnson has carried the ball 205 times for 1,596 yards and has found the end zone 25 times this season. While he’s been the main man in the back field, freshman Jayce Knutsen has been big too, rushing for 311 yards on just 34 carries and finding the end zone six times.

While the Colts found their way to the state championship for the first time this season, the special thing about Stowers and his squad is they all still have at least one more year together. Being that the football program started in 2015, the Colts haven’t had a senior class yet. Which Stowers believes has been a key to their success.

“We’re going on three years with some of them and they are a very close group and close team and love playing for one another,” Stowers said. “We obviously have very talented players but they have played very unselfish this year and have done a very nice job focusing on the team and not just themselves.”

The Colts will see if that tight-knit family atmosphere will pay off on Saturday as they take on the Pusch Ridge Lions at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at Campo Verde high school.

Do you have a human-interest or feature story idea? Contact Sports Editor Greg Macafee at Follow Greg on Twitter @greg_macafee

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