South Tahoe railroads Sparks in season opener
South Tahoe senior receiver Mccallan Castles grabbed a short pass, juked a defender and ran down the sideline for a touchdown.
On the next Viking possession, Castles snatched a middle screen, cut through the defense and went the distance.
Moments later, Castles snagged another short pass from his quarterback Peyton Galli and again took it all the way.
Castles, with his custom silver size 14 shoes shimmering in the night lights, scored three touchdowns in a five-minute span of the first quarter to help the Vikings railroad the visiting Sparks Railroaders 53-7 in their season opener.
“Sometimes it feels like it’s unfair, like tonight,” said South Tahoe head coach Louis Franklin about what kind of weapon Castles is on offense. “They did everything they needed to, that kid just made plays we don’t see very often, if ever. He’s a type of kid, and I’ve coached some kids and against kids that play on Sundays, if he loves the game, we’ll be able to tune in on Saturdays and watch him on college and hopefully on Sundays too. That was pretty special tonight even though he’s not even 100 percent.”
After the teams did nothing with their opening possessions, Galli hit Castles on a quick hitch. The 6-foot-5 Castles juked a defender, then pushed him to the ground, and ran for a 23-yard score.
Running back Jakob Costley exploded for a 52-yard gain to set up the touchdown.
Castles scored his second touchdown and didn’t look touched as his teammates paved the way for a 51-yard romp.
The big senior then turned a 10-yard reception into a 70-yard touchdown on the Vikings next series for an 18-0 lead.
Castles had three catches for 144 yards at halftime.
“It’s easy to throw to him, he’s the biggest guy on the field,” Galli said. “I just gotta put it in a 6 foot by 6 foot box and he’s gonna catch it. A lot of times he’s just a distraction because everybody watches him when he’s on the field because of the huge year he had last year. Even when they know he’s getting the ball, they can’t stop him.”
The defense got into the scoring act late in the opening quarter.
Viking senior linebacker Caleb Moretti, who transferred this year from Whittell, plucked a bullet pass out of the sky for an interception and then returned it 40 yards for a touchdown.
The Vikings led 24-0 after the opening quarter and the blowout was on.
Costley scored a pair of second-quarter touchdowns, both from five yards out to give South Tahoe a 39-0 lead at the break.
“We had a rocky start to practice this week and then we finally stepped it up and looked like we were getting ready for a game,” Castles said. “I was confident in our team going into this game and as soon as we started going, we rolled.”
With a running clock to start the second half, the Vikings came out flat and Sparks’ Carlos Rodriguez scampered 51 yards to score on a punt return to make it 39-7 and stop the running clock, which is used when a team leads by 35 points or more.
“We’ve got a lot to work on,” Franklin said. “I was proud of the defense, they played exceptionally well. But I was disappointed how we came out in the second half. We talked about it at halftime, it was a main focus for us.”
The Vikings scored again late in the third and it was a big play by Castles that set up the TD. It was probably his most impressive play of the night and it didn’t go for a touchdown.
He grabbed another short pass and ran through three defenders before a group of Railroaders finally took him down 19 yards later at the 7-yard line.
“I was trying to go 4 for 4,” Castles said. “Whenever I catch it, I’m trying to score.”
Costley finished the drive with his third score, this one from three yards out.
Moretti made it a special night when he picked off his second pass and went 65 yards for his second defensive touchdown.
“It was fun, my first time out here at South Tahoe and the atmosphere was amazing,” Moretti said. “I came out here and worked my butt off and tried to do my job and get some tackles. I’m pretty sure they both came when they were spread out and I didn’t have a run read. So I dropped back under their routes and they made the wrong two decisions.”
Costley rushed for 123 yards on 11 carries, Galli completed 11 of 18 passes for 226 yards and Matt Cain had three catches for 44 yards and also rushed for 14.
South Tahoe racked up over 350 yards in offense in the first half but just 43 in the second. The running clock and liberal substitutions were the main reasons.
“Our quarterback was putting the ball right where it needed to be but we just couldn’t play catch tonight, we dropped a lot of balls and I need to get them better prepared at practice.”
South Tahoe (1-0) next will host Spring Creek at 7 p.m. next Friday.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries lately and to come out and squash them was fun,” Galli said. “We weren’t pointing fingers, we played together as a team. We were a family tonight.”