Castleton’s football team narrowly escaped winless Ana Maria, 17-14 on a 20-yard field goal by Bobby Lineberger Saturday in Paxton, Mass. The Spartans held the Amcats scoreless in the second half, capped off by a fourth down stop by junior linebacker Darren Callan to improve to 6-2.
Anna Maria struck first with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Trai Weaver to Daniel Faison with 11:59 left in the first half.
“We were in a position I think many of us didn’t think we would be in,” said head coach Tony Volpone. “I think we got figuratively punched in the mouth and maybe to a degree, literally punched in the mouth.”
“They came out with a lot of energy and had a good start to the game which gave them life throughout,” said Castleton offensive lineman and senior captain Jordan Tolar.
Castleton answered with a touchdown of their own as George Busharis found the hands of Soren Pelz-Walsh for a 16 yard score. Lineberger added the extra point tied the game at 7.
The Amcats held a seven-point lead at the half on the back of junior running back St. Clair Ryan who scored on a three-yard run and punished the Spartan Defensive line.
“We knew this was going to be a tough game. They came out pretty physical,” said Defensive Coordinator Blaise Zambrano.
While Castleton was partially stunned at first, they were able to figure it out.
“They ran the ball effectively in the first half then Coach Z made some adjustments and we were able to stop them,” said senior safety and captain Eric Mimnaugh.
The second half belonged to the Spartans as they outscored the Amcats 10-0 and finished the job with Callan’s fourth down stop.
“You’re always talking about somebody needing to make a play,” Zambrano said. “You can scheme and game plan all you want but it comes down to players making plays and who makes more plays in the game is usually going to win. Darren Callan is a great example of that.”
Castleton players never stopped believing in their defense late in the game.
“A lot of us have been playing together a while and we have a lot of trust and faith in each other to get the job done,” said Mimnaugh. “It’s easy to go out there and focus on your job knowing the guy next to you will do his.”
When asked about his confidence level in the defense on the last drive, senior quarterback George Busharis replied “One-hundred percent. I trust all the guys out there at all points of the game.”
Castleton will look to tie a school record for wins as they host Becker Nov. 7 at 12 p.m. at Spartan Stadium.
“At the end of the day we’re 6-2,” said linebacker and senior captain Jay Morgan. “We found a way to win now we just need to have a great week of practice to get ready for a solid Becker team.”