Coming up short in sectionals is something that never sits well with the Knights over in Newburgh. The Castle football team has won 13 sectional titles in school history, 5 of which have come in the last 10 years. However, after falling short a season ago, the boys in Newburgh tell 44Sports reporter Andrew Garcia they are ready to march forward in 2020.
Since 2015, Castle has won three sectional titles and a regional crown. The Knights were looking to repeat as sectional kings last year but fell to Bloomington South in the sectional semi-final.
"They've got a great football team and we were not very good at the beginning of the year," said Castle head coach Doug Hurt. "We got better as the year wore on and so I think we closed the gap. However, I think they had 38 seniors and we didn't. They are a very well coached, disciplined football team and we came up a little bit short and it led to some changes in the off-season."
"Even when you're down you can keep fighting," said Castle Senior Connor McIntire. "Fighting through and put up a good showing regardless of what the score might end up being. We got beat pretty handily but I didn't see any of the guys quit and that is really important to me."
But rather than sit around and sulk about their season ending loss, Castle is using it as a learning experience to reclaim their throne, something they believe they can accomplish as they return 9 starters on each side of the ball.
"It helps a lot since we built a lot of connections last year and really became like a family to each other," said Castle Junior Evan Reff. We learned a lot about the team and how everything works both offensively and defensively, getting the schemes down, I think we'll be real strong. We're really hoping to put a good team out."
"Especially with the whole coronavirus thing, we weren't able to practice until like the last couple weeks," said McIntire. "So having guys come back who already know the schemes and what we're doing is super useful since you don't have as much time to teach everything."
"This is the most experienced team I've ever had and that's saying something," said Hurt. "Our 12 group was a veteran group but to have 9 starters on both sides of the ball back, that's 18 total starters. We've got a lot of depth, a lot of experience so you really hope that bodes well for our group."
Castle will also look to improve their defense, in 4 of their 5 losses last year the Knights surrendered 32 points or more.
"Consistency is definitely a big thing for us," said Reff. "We talked about that a whole lot last year and we were really really good at times and then we had moments when we just weren't as good as the defense. We're just making sure we are doing what we are supposed to be at all times."