Caston football preview: Frosh, sophs could key Comets
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The Caston football team will open the season with a home game against West Central at 7 p.m. Friday.
The most important number going into the Caston football team’s season is 14.
They have lost 14 consecutive games since a 26-10 win over North White on Sept. 24, 2021. And they have 14 freshmen and sophomores among their 23 players who are tasked with bringing winning back to Comet football.
“I would like to think that we’re going to be more competitive due to that,” Caston coach Chris Ulerick said of his team’s dedication in the weight room. “We had better attendance. There was a concerted effort school-wide. Kids got stronger, so hopefully it pays dividends.”
Sophomore Gavin Mollenkopf takes over for the graduated Landon Shafer at quarterback, and the leading returning rusher is another sophomore, Jabez Yarber. Sophomore Lucius Edson has taken a lot of summer and practice reps at wide receiver.
On the offensive line, Ulerick sees freshman Brody Brewer starting at center and sophomore Landen Ehlinger at strong tackle.
The defensive line could include freshman Brayden Unger and freshman Cameron McFatridge. Freshman Landen Rigney will contend for an outside linebacker spot. Freshmen Ashton Bowyer and Gage Minniear could be the starting cornerbacks. And all three could factor into skill position spots on offense.
“Those three are going to have to play football,” Ulerick said.
Some of the younger players attended a day camp at Notre Dame. They also went to North Miami for a series of scrimmages against Rochester and Kokomo. They also scrimmaged Lewis Cass and Delphi.
“We held our own,” Ulerick said. “The kids were able to compete and line up and do things correctly. We weren’t perfect, and I don’t know if we would have beaten all the teams, but we could at least compete. So right now, that’s where we’ve got to get back to. We’ve just got to be able to compete in a football game. … In practice, we’ve got seniors going against freshmen a lot of times, but some of those freshmen are going to have to learn how to play football because we need them to play varsity football this year.”
Mollenkopf saw occasional action last year backing up Shafer. Ulerick calls Mollenkopf “much improved,” saying that he’s been able to adapt to the speed of the varsity game.
Yarber is “naturally very gifted,” according to Ulerick. Ulerick said Yarber will still get touches but from more of a “wing-type spot.”
“The biggest thing with Jabez for this year is he’s going to have to learn where he aligns and where he fits in for us to give the group of us the best fit,” Ulerick said. “He does have some natural ability, and we’ve moved his position a little bit to hopefully make us a little bit deeper, so that was a learning moment that Jabez and I quickly resolved after team camp, and I think after team camp, I think he’s figured out why we’ve moved him, and he’s actually excelled since then, so hopefully, it continues to go in the direction that it’s going currently.”
Seniors Kyle Roudebush and Chase Angot will also get carries, according to Ulerick. The 210-pound Roudebush is the team’s most physical running back.
Grant Yadon is the team’s top returning receiver and will line up at tight end, often in tandem with Roudebush.
A newcomer at wide receiver is Lance Hanna, a senior who has transferred in from Rossville.
Unger is listed at 150 pounds but figures to contribute along the defensive line.
“He should jump in there somewhere,” Ulerick said. “Brayden’s just got to figure out were and what he’s wanting to do. … He’s always been a very good defensive linemen no matter what level he’s played at, but he can play football. “
Angot and junior Noah Herd will join Brewer on the defensive line, and senior Pete DuVall will also be in the mix on the defensive line while also starting at guard on offense.
Yadon and Roudebush will start at inside linebacker while Martin, Yarber and Rigney will contend for the two outside linebacker spots.
Ulerick said the freshman cornerbacks will have to adapt to the speed of the game, but he also had high praise for Bowyer.
“Ashton is one of the best tackler we’ve had in a long time as far as bringing everything to the table,” Ulerick said. “He’s got a little bit of the small dog in him, but he can play football and tackle. I think it’s just going to be the speed of the game adjusting to what we want him to do defensively, and if they do that, we’ll be fine. They’ll be fine. They’ll figure it out. … We don’t face many all-out, air-raid (offenses).”
Mollenkopf and Hanna could both get playing time at safety.
Brandon Kinser, Daniel Scales, Hunter Schanlaub and Sam DuVall are newcomers to the coaching staff. They join veteran assistants Tony Slocum and Pat Rombold.
Aug. 18 – vs. West Central, 7 p.m.
Aug. 25 – at North Judson, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 1 – at Triton, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 – vs. Pioneer, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 – vs. LaVille, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 – at North White, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 – vs. Culver, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 – at Winamac, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 – vs. Knox, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 20 – Class 1A, Sectional 43 quarterfinal
Class 1A, Sectional 43