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  • Val T.

Week 11 football preview: Caston shorthanded against undefeated Southwood


Sports Editor, RTC

Class 1A, Sectional 44 semifinal: Caston (3-7) at Southwood (10-0), 11 a.m. Saturday

The Caston defense survived the all-out assault on it from North Miami’s Darian Hanley in a 34-28 win last week.

Hanley ran 59 times for 383 yards and four touchdowns and scored all 28 North Miami points.

Still Caston survived after building a 34-14 lead after three quarters and seeing North Miami recover an onside kick in the fourth quarter.

“They lined him up in the wildcat formation, and the offense went through him,” Caston coach Will Porter said of Hanley. “It was frustrating to say the least, but we made some key plays at some key times and were able to get some stops early on that helped us out at the end of the game. We were able to get the ball rolling ourselves, so at the long end of it, we’re just happy that we’re the ones advancing.”

While Hanley shined for North Miami, Sam Smith starred for the Comets, rushing for 288 yards and four touchdowns on 31 carries. The big night gave him 1,035 yards for the season, and he has scored 16 of Caston’s 23 offensive touchdowns this season.

“He had a great performance last week,” Porter said. “He really was an important key to our success and getting us that sectional win. … Definitely a great kid. He’s number one in his class academically, just a really great young player. He’s still only a junior, so we have another year with him.”

The other news on Smith is that he saved his best game of the season for last. That’s because he will miss the game against Southwood due to quarantine after being cited in contact tracing. Grant Hickle is also out for the season.

The timing of not having Smith or Hickle might not be ideal. Southwood is undefeated and ranked No. 3 and coming off a 36-0 win over Northfield last week.

The Knights, who originally had to withdraw from the state tournament due to coronavirus exposure within the program, were able to re-enter after every player on the team tested negative for the virus.

Quarterback Alex Farr accounted for four touchdowns – two passing, two rushing -- and 226 yards of total offense last week.

“He’s a pretty good athlete,” Porter said. “He can make a lot of things happen with his feet. He always has an eye looking downfield. Just when you think you’re going to get him at the line of scrimmage, he’s throwing the ball deep and making something happen. He’s definitely a very talented quarterback and probably one of the best, if not the best, quarterback we’ve seen all year.”

Southwood has also excelled on defense. The shutout of Northfield was their fourth of the season.

“The best thing I can say about their defense is that they’re a great tackling team,” Porter said. “They’re not necessarily the biggest, most intimidating defense out there, but they have a way of getting their leverage and staying low while they make the tackle. And they always seem to make a good, solid positive tackle. … That’s going to be a challenge for us. And it’s definitely something we’re trying to game-plan against. We’re struggling to simulate that throughout the week, but hopefully we can find a way to move the ball.”

The game was moved from Friday night to 11 a.m. Saturday due to the remaining coronavirus threat at Southwood and an “abundance of caution and safety of our coaches, athletes, fans etc.,” according to a media release from Caston.

This is the first meeting between the teams since a 7-3 Southwood win on Oct. 20, 1978.

The winner will play either Triton or Adams Central in the sectional final.

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