In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a very long time. But the Casteel Colts covered a lot of ground in that time.
It took that amount of time for the football program to win the school’s first state championship. The Colts defeated #1 Pusch Ridge 35-28 to win the 3A state title.
The team, who’s oldest class is the junior class, saw strong performances from quarterback Gunner Cruz, who threw three touchdowns, two of which went to Khyheem Waleed. Running back Mack Johnson rushed for two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score on fourth down.
“We have a great team. We’ve been put in a great situation,” Cruz said. “Pusch Ridge, all the credit to them. They are a fantastic football team. It was back-and-forth, back-and-forth. They didn’t give up at the end, they came back a little bit, but our preparation all week long put us in a position to where we could come out with a win.
From day one, Casteel principal Sandy Lundberg challenged all athletic teams to win a state championship in three years, saying they were the “keepers of the kingdom” for the Colts. The football team was able to deliver on that challenge, and they drew inspiration from their leader, who is currently battling cancer.
“It means everything to me,” Casteel football coach Spencer Stowers said. “She hired me, she believed in me. She challenged us to do this and you know what, as much as I wanted this for our players, I wanted this even more for her. She does everything for our school, and she’s done everything for this program. I love her. This is for her, our players would say the same thing.”
While the 4A-6A participants will duke it out on December 2nd at Arizona Stadium for the right to be called state champs, Casteel will be holding an event to support Lundberg (there’s also a GoFundMe) and her family to help offset medical costs. The event will be on the Casteel campus from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and will include a silent auction.
You can bet a certain trophy will be in attendance a week from today.
Next year, the Colts will make the jump from 3A to 5A after the latest conference re-alignments.