Written by Will Hoenike
The community of Castleford is ready to see its team finally reach a state championship.
The Wolves won a state title in 2002 but hasn’t finished above .500 since 2014. Could this be the season that Castleford inches closer to the top of the Sawtooth Conference?
The door is ajar, if for no other reason than two of the conference’s playoff teams from a year ago, Lighthouse Christian and Murtaugh, have both moved up a classification to 1A Division 1. Head coach Brian Lowry, entering his fourth season as the Wolves’ skipper, will have to replace versatile Derrick Reese, who earned all-conference accolades as both a running back and a defensive back as a senior.
The torch could be passed to sophomore Gus Wiggins, though the team also returns quarterback Eric Taylor. Junior Joey Martinez will head up the team’s offensive and defensive fronts.
Second-team All-Sawtooth defensive end Colton Leitch returns to head up a defense that held each opponent in the team’s two wins to just six points and held a third team to just 22 which, in eight-man football, is pretty good.
The consistency will need to improve, though, especially if the Wolves hope to contend in the still-dangerous Sawtooth Conference. Against the five teams that qualified for the postseason out of the conference, Castleford went just 1-4, allowing an average of 46 points per game.
Many expect Carey and Dietrich, who have long been powers in the conference, to be tough once again. Beyond that, opportunity abounds. Castleford will be in the mix, competing for a playoff spot. Staying healthy is always key in eight-man football. So is solid, fundamental defense. There’s a lot of real estate on the field and eight-man teams are trying to cover it with three fewer players than traditional, 11-man teams. If the Wolves can stay healthy and tackle well, they have a very real shot to return to the 1A Division 2 postseason.