At the eight-week mark, the Spartans were sitting at .500 record of 4-4 and were faced with the possibility of a potentially mediocre season. But after an exciting 28-17 home field defeat of the Gallaudet Bisons and a 49-21 blowout of the Alfred State pioneers, the Spartans saved their season and finished third overall in the ECFC. Castleton finished with a conference record of 5-2 and an overall record of 6-4, effectively rebounding from a disappointing 4-6 2016 campaign.
“It was awesome to kind of surge at the end of the year and bounce back from last season. I think it showed how committed the entire team was to proving what we were capable of as a team,” said senior safety Luke Mullin.
This marks the third time in the past four seasons the program has finished with a winning record. But this final victory by Castleton was significant for more reasons than one. For 13 seniors, this was a sweet one to call their last game as a Spartan.
Linebackers Shane Hurley, Cam McHale, Troy Dane, Jakob Trautwein, Joel Antoine, safety Luke Mullin, fullback Chris Oettinger, defensive linemen Cody ‘Bubba’ Collins, Justin Nolan, Matt Lawhorn, offensive lineman Eric Decker, and tight end Nick Boles are all calling it a career after this week.
“This game has done so much for me. I couldn’t ask for anything more than what this program has provided me with these past four years, that is why it feels so good to secure a winning record,” Hurley said. In his last two games wearing green and white, Hurley came through with 10 tackles, three tackles for a loss, a sack, and a forced fumble.
“I’ve been here since the very beginning of the (Tony) Volpone era and there’s no other coaching staff or teammates that I’d rather play for. I love this team, and I love this game,” he said.
With 13 seniors at key positions not returning for the 2018 season, it is fair to wonder what is next for this Spartans football team. Star running back Moe Harris finished the season with 1,180 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns, both Castleton single season records, and he still has one year of eligibility left. Sophomore wide receiver Jermaine Coggins racked up 11 catches, 202 yards, 3 tds in the Spartans last two games. Coggins is likely to step into a leader ship role going forward as well.
“I think we set a solid foundation, “ said Mullin, “I feel confident leaving the team in the younger guys hands. I’m excited to see some of them take over as leaders and hopefully guide the program to a conference title in the future.”
Senior linebacker Jakob Trautwein agreed with his teammate.
“They are a good group of guys,” Trautwein said, “They’re in good hands with our coaching staff. I’m really excited for the future of the program.”
This past Saturday marked the second year in row that Trautwein, or as many call him, “Traut” led the team in tackles and logged over one hundred tackles in a season for Castleton. He finished the season with 113 tackles after setting a school record with 142 total tackles the previous season.
Clearly these seniors are convinced the team is headed in the right direction. But now that football is over, what is next for them?
“Now that the season is over, I’ll have more time to focus on my grades,” said Trautwein.
“I hope to find the time in the future to come back for a few practices to see how all my current teammates carry on the traditions of seniors past,” added Mullin, “I’m graduating with a degree in business but I hope to stay in the realm of sports… Hopefully some day I’ll even be able to open up my own facility”
As the seniors shift their focus, Volpone and the team look to build on this year and put together an even stronger 2018 campaign.