The Caston Comets have won their third straight Cass County Youth Football League championship, bodes well for the future of Caston sports.
The Comets, competing in the senior division, made up of students ages 11 to 12 or grades 5 and 6, were 10-0 this fall. The Comets defeated Lewis Cass 36-0 in Sunday’s championship game at Logansport Memorial Hospital Stadium.
The CCYFL now consists of teams from Caston, Lewis Cass, Pioneer, Logansport, Winamac, Carroll, Delphi, Maconaquah, Clinton Central and Taylor.
Fourteen of the 18 members of the Caston team are sixth grade students. The group went 35-1 during their CCYFL careers and won their third consecutive championship. The only loss was to Logansport when they were in third grade.
Jason Herd completed his 20th and final year as coach of the Caston youth team. He plans to continue as a member of the league’s board of directors. He is also a junior football coach at Caston.
The Comets have been particularly strong in defense this year. They have allowed just six points for the entire season and 17 first downs in 10 games.
“It all starts with our defensive ends with our defensive philosophy,” Herd said. “We want to contain with our ends Parker Zimpleman on one side and London Herd, my youngest son, on the other. We have three outstanding linebackers, Tucker Woolever was the middle linebacker. He is Parker’s first cousin, his mother and Parker’s father are brother, sister. Owen Chapman was an outside linebacker and Logan Mollenkopf was the other outside linebacker. They just wreaked havoc on the infractions. There was nowhere to go for the infractions. If you tried to focus on one of these guys, it left the others free to roam around and it was really fun to watch.
Caston’s baseball coach Blake Mollenkopf was the team’s offensive coordinator. Herd said one of the challenges was that the Comets were a great team and that with the two- and three-strip system they didn’t have a lot of kids to lead the ball.
All three bands weigh 136 pounds and over. Only three are allowed in attack and two in defense in the same game. The two-colored weigh between 106 and 135 pounds and are not allowed to run with the ball either.
“This year was really unusual for us because we have so many bigger kids and it’s just something new that I’ve never really dealt with before,” Herd said. “With the league rules with your weight dictating where you can play and where you can’t, you’re limited on how many bigger guys you can have on the court, that created challenges. We were just heavy so we only had a few competent guys who could carry the ball for us. Obviously we had a really good line on both sides of the ball and we just stuck to the script of playing with that strength. We didn’t try to be cute doing a lot of different things, we just kept it simple and we played with a lot of short fields. Our defense would force a turnover and you rarely kick in youth football you always try to get there and that gave us a lot of short pitches.
Caston’s youth football team was once known as Chargers, but Herd said that changed about five years ago. He said that although the teams are not affiliated with the school, they are now all named after their high school team.
The CCYFL also added a junior division made up of kids ages 9-10 or grades 3-4 about a decade ago. Each community had a senior team and a junior team this year. Logansport won the junior division this year. There was no championship game. Caston only had 13 players on his junior team, but went 4-4-1 and tied runner-up Cass.
Senior Caston’s tightest game was against Pioneer, a 12-6 victory.
While Caston’s sixth graders stand out, the junior high school team went 5-3 in the HNAC this year with just four eighth graders on the team.
Caston’s college football team are 2-7, 2-0 against non-conference opponents and 0-7 against HNAC. The current group of seniors finished second in the CCYFL in grade six.
“Since then we’ve been very strong,” Herd said. “Even when these kids were in third grade, I coached the juniors for a long time and we were just strong. We also had a lot of skinny years, we also had years where we would win a game or two. But over the past eight years our youth program on the ground has been really strong. “
There are only four senior soccer players on the high school squad this year.
“They are playing well enough to represent six kids,” Herd said. “I got into this with the clear intention of making an impact on the high school curriculum. I came back from Indianapolis around 2002, got involved and participated in the training of all the kids who played in Caston. The biggest problem Caston will always have, no matter who trains or plays, is depth. Trying to form a team that can not only compete against each other on match day, but also compete against each other throughout the week and achieve realistic game simulation throughout the week. It’s tough when you only have 22 kids or less trying to put a realistic situation into practice on the pitch and if you don’t have at least that many, you’re relegated to drills. It hurts, especially in the conference we’re in, it’s so good and deep in football.
Grade 6 students train with the junior high school team, and the same coaches coach the junior high school team as well. Herd said it helps the younger ones to practice with the older ones.
“All of us involved in football at Caston are very excited about the next six years,” said Herd.
“The biggest challenge we have is keeping these kids interested in football. Not that winning has never been my top priority, I always tell parents we’re going to go out and try to win, but I won’t. sacrificing your son’s experience in football just to win. I want them to fall in love with the sport and they can’t do that by sitting on the sidelines. But it’s as true as getting beaten all the time. time it’s hard to have fun playing soccer. You try to balance that and winning is contagious. Winning gets kids walking the halls not playing, it all of a sudden interests them. We hope so that it will help to generate some interest in the kids who have never played or stopped playing soccer and there are a lot of people in the halls of Caston and we want them to come back.
Caston has beautiful facilities and a state-of-the-art weight room. The college football team has made progress in recent years and will look to continue to do so. The Comets will travel to South Central (Union Mills) (4-3) on Friday to open section play.
This winter, Caston’s men’s basketball team returns often as the reigning two-time section champion. Caston’s women’s basketball team are also looking to be one of the top contenders in the section.
“This school and this community craves breakthroughs beyond chapters,” Herd said. “We never had a team beyond the section. Almost everyone around us felt this success. The coaches currently in Caston make this their goal. “