Photo's courtesy of Jayson Mullen/Castleton Spartan Junior runningback Matthew Hesford runs it into the endzone.
Last season, the Castleton University Spartans football team opened the season against Plymouth State and got trounced 38 – 0.
Saturday was a different story.
This year, the Spartans showed up and competed until the end, but fell a little short in a hard-fought battle against those same Panthers of Plymouth State.
It was a back and forth matchup, and Castleton led in the first half, but in the end it was 23–17 in favor of Plymouth St.
Senior outside linebacker Lukas Carlson, a captain for the Spartans, was pleased despite the disappointing result of the game.
“Overall, it was a very good showing on both sides of the ball, and a great example of what our younger guys can do,” he said.
In their first game of the regular season, the Spartans came right out of the gate and did something they couldn’t do against the same opponent a year ago.
Things seemed to be clicking for the Spartans on offense. Sophomore quarterback Jacob McCarthy threw for 183 yards while going 22–31 on the day.
The main target of those 31 attempts was junior wide receiver Anthony Martinez, who averaged 12 yards on seven catches.
Castleton’s first points came with 6:16 remaining in the first quarter. Sophomore running back Simon Davis Jr. ran the ball seven yards to secure the first touchdown of the season.
Things were only getting started as the first quarter came to a close.
The second quarter saw the Panthers answer right back with a touchdown run of their own. The Spartans responded with a 19-yard field goal converted by Sophomore Andy Kenosh to make the score 10 – 7.
But the Panthers answered back with a field goal of their own with 13 seconds left in the first half.
It was all tied up at 10 heading into the second half.
Each team scored another touchdown in the third quarter, and the crowd was getting into it. The Castleton Athletic Band was helping to lead them in cheers to pump up the Spartans heading into the final quarter.
But with just under seven minutes remaining in the game, Plymouth St. went ahead by six with another rushing touchdown.
That made the score 23 – 17, and that is how it ended.
Castleton head coach Tony Volpone says that he doesn’t look at the win-loss record, but he ultimately has one goal for all of his teams.
“I really just want us to compete,” he said. “I want us to get a little chip or an edge back to our program.”
Volpone and players were pretty positive despite the result to Saturday’s game.
“Games that are this close come down to a couple plays and a couple calls,” Volpone said. “I am very happy with our effort, I am very happy with our focus, and we just came up on the short end.”
Joseph Saraiva, a senior offensive tackle, believes that the future is bright for this team.
“I think overall as a team we are better prepared this year than last year,” he said.
Carlson was disappointed with the result, but like his coach he took positives out of the loss. “Obviously it was a tough loss with such a close score, but the whole team took huge steps forward in execution and attitude,” he said.
The Spartans return to action Saturday, Sept. 14 when they go on the road to take on the Fitchburg State Falcons at 2 p.m.
Junior Anthony Martinez eyes the pass from quarterback Jacob McCarthy.
Defensive Coordinator Anthony Marsella goes over strategy with his defense.
Spartans get ready to take the field for their first game of the season.