We’re in the homestretch of the regular season here in Arizona. Each game matters so much more than the ones in September.
Each game can make or break a playoff push for these high schools. For Casteel, the team was able to rebound from their two-game losing streak, as the Colts beat Gilbert 48-33 on Friday night.
The game started out as a shootout with each side trading scores. Each quarterback was lighting up the opposing defense. However, the true difference maker wasn’t a quarterback, but a running back.
Senior Benjamin Biancas had a dominating game against the Tigers, rushing for 289 yards and scoring four touchdowns on the ground. Biancas said having the tremendous offensive line grinding away at the Gilbert defense helped open up the holes for him to succeed.
“On film you can see a lot of teams put up a lot of rushing yards against them,” Biancas said. “The wear and tear on the d-line, just five yards at a time, over and over and over. Really it starts to wear down on them and they get tired. They have two-way players and you can tell they were starting to get fatigued at the end.”
Casteel head coach Bobby Newcombe said that this was the strategy all along. He wanted to have the offense play up-tempo in the first half to drain the defense so when the second half came, they can rely on the running game.
“We wanted to get some quick passes out there and get some of our guys in space,” Newcombe said. “...We wanted to start off fast… no huddle, moving down the field and we were going to gravitate back towards the running game. We found that they had a bunch of guys playing both sides of the football. We’re a team that can play four quarters of football, we condition our guys really well.”
Gilbert was in the game for most of the first half and even towards the second half. They played hard to shrink Casteel’s lead to just eight points.
Senior quarterback Will Plummer was electric on the field, throwing four touchdowns for 322 yards but wasn’t able to overcome the defense’s deficiencies.
The defensive coaching staff has gone through a lot of changes since the summer as the defensive coordinator and several other coaches left for other jobs. It forced the Tigers to rebuild on the fly.
Gilbert coach Derek Zellner said he felt awful for everyone involved in this loss, from his coaching staff, the school but most of all, the players themselves.
“We deserve, we’ve worked hard to deserve an opportunity to win games, we’re right on the cusps but we just haven’t figured out how to get a team off the field to get our offense back on,” Zellner said. “...We’re within eight points of the game with a great Casteel team ...to have them within eight points and then to let it squander away, it basically rips your heart out through your chest.”
With two games left, each team is looking to finish the season strong.
Casteel (5-3, 1-2) looks to secure a home playoff game and a chance to face one of the teams that gave them a loss, something that Biancas said drives him and his team. The Colts take on Maricopa (3-5, 0-3) next week.
Gilbert (3-5, 0-3) looks to finish at 5-5 and slip into the postseason like last year in a section Zellner called “the SEC of the East Valley.” The Tigers are on the road at Higley (6-2, 3-0) next week.
CHS 7 17 14 10 -- 48
GHS 6 14 0 13 -- 33
GHS -- Plummer 31 pass to Hironaka, 6:20
CHS -- Christensen 6t pass to Digian (kick), 2:28
CHS -- Vanderpool IV 35 field goal, 7:57
GHS -- Plummer 20 pass to Barnhardt (kick), 6:11
CHS -- Christensen 41 pass to Newcombe (kick), 5:01
GHS -- Plummer 39 pass to Barnhardt (kick), 2:00
CHS -- Biancas 4 run (kick), :57
CHS -- Biancas 14 run (kick), 8:05
CHS -- Biancas 9 run (kick), :04
GHS -- Fulton 5 run, 10:05
CHS -- Vanderpool IV 20 field goal, 7:33
GHS -- Plummer 3 pass to Barnhardt (kick), 4:54
CHS -- Biancas 9 run (kick), 2:00
12 Dane Christensen Jr. QB: 16-23 for 270 yards
1 Isaiah Newcombe Jr WR: 1 carry for -2 yards
2 Benjamin Biancas Sr QB: 29 carries for 289 yards
12 Dane Christensen: 3 carries for 41 yards
1 Isaiah Newcombe Jr WR: 1 catch for 41 yards
2 Benjamin Biancas Sr QB: 1 catch
10 Dominic Digian Jr WR: 6 catches 106 yards
13: Desmon Holton Jr WR: 1 catch for 21 yards
20 Grady Burns Sr WR: 7 catches for 94 yards
15 Will Plummer SR QB: 23-34 for 322 yards
8 Daniel Fulton JR FB: 2 carries for 7 yards
15 Will Plummer SR QB: 6 carries for 30 yard
32 Jayloni Pizarro JR RB: 3 carries for 16 yard
1: Blake Barnhardt SR WR: 9 catches for 152 yards
2 Tyler Hironaka SR WR: 8 catches for 119 yards
11: Jose Ortiz SR WR: 1 catch for 12 yards
24: Carter Dickie FR RB: 2 catches for 20 yards
7: Wyatt Zellner JR WR: 1 catch for 2 yards
10: Evan Smith SO ATH: 1 catch for 25 yards
6: Alex Wick SR WR: 1 catch for 19 yards