by Jason Herd
For the Pharos-Tribune
After deflating losses to Carroll and North White, Caston’s football team was in need of some soul searching. A fresh, new offensive philosophy that had averaged 21 points per game in the first four contests had suddenly gone stale. Combine that with a porous defense, and the outlook for the remainder of the season looked bleak at best.
Facing a South Newton squad that had given up 52 points per game coming into Friday, coach Chris Ulerick made the decision to go back to the basics offensively, placing his senior quarterback under center and committing to the smash-mouth running style of the basic wing-T. Coupled with a few personnel changes, the move worked as the Comets pulled away from the Rebels for a 34-20 victory at Kentland.
Caston wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as junior Jake Kingery found paydirt from 16 yards out with 6:33 left in the first. After a long drive that resulted in a turnover at the 9-yard line, the Rebels were set up immediately inside the 5 with the first of five Comet fumbles. Sophomore quarterback John Dafcik scored from 1 yard out at the 11:55 mark of the second period to give South Newton its only lead of the game at 7-6.
On Caston’s fifth drive of the half, Douglass led the Comets to the Rebel 12. Fellow senior Conner Martin darted off tackle and into the end zone for the touchdown with 2:06 to play.
After half, Caston’s first drive of the third period took it again inside the Rebel 30 with Kingery and Martin carrying the load. But a Martin fumble was recovered by Sam Applegate, temporarily halting Caston’s momentum. On the very next play, however, Martin scooped up a Damari Embry fumble and bolted 29 yards for the score to extend the lead to 20-7.
The Comets forced a turnover on downs at their own 32 when junior Kelvin Tharp sacked Dafcik for a loss. On the ensuing play, sophomore Brayton Jellison was stripped by senior Trever Lowe, who rumbled 30 yards for the touchdown to draw South Newton within 7.
Working with a short field after a botched Rebel punt, Martin struck again, this time from 12 yards out to put the Comets ahead 28-13 with 8:27 left in the fourth. Douglass intercepted Dafcik at the Rebel 35 and returned it to the 5. Martin’s number was called again, as he stiffarmed his way to the end zone from 5 yards to seal the win with 3:29 left.
Martin finished with three rushing touchdowns and one defensive score. Kingery, Douglass and Martin combined for 228 rushing yards on the night.
“We just went back to our regular wing-T this week. [Ryan] Coffing was pulling and leading the way for me, so I give him a lot of credit [Friday],” said Martin.