Weather, Casteel can’t stop Chandler from going undefeated

Bad weather on Friday forced Chandler and Casteel to postpone their match to Saturday. (Photo by Spencer Pullen/azpreps365.com)

The Casteel Colts and Chandler Wolves finally faced off at Joel Wirth Stadium on Saturday afternoon, where the Colts suffered their first home loss, 40-21.

Chandler and Casteel were scheduled to play Friday night. However, the match was postponed due to bad weather.

It was the first 6A Premier Region match of the season for both in this 15-hour battle between unbeaten. Wolves took an early lead and never looked back.

Senior running back Ca’lil Valentine scored on the very first play from scrimmage, taking a pass down the middle before bouncing it outside for an 80-yard home call. Valentine then scored two more touchdowns in the first half, when junior teammate Dylan Raiola threw for two touchdowns.

The former connected at an angle to lead receiver Tyreeq-Styles Obichere in the first quarter. Later in the second quarter, Railoa found junior receiver Jaxon Branch running down the sideline for a touchdown.

The Colts couldn’t create an attacking pace for the first two quarters of football and trailed Wolves 34-0 at halftime.

Early in the third quarter, Jaxon Branch opened up on a post road and ran for six points to extend Chandler’s lead to 40-0. But the Colts finally started playing more inspired football in the third quarter, when the defense created its first turnover.

Junior defensive back JJ Newcombe intercepted a pass from Railoa to set up the Colts’ offense near midfield. The offense, led by senior quarterback Landon Jury, then staged Casteel’s first touchdown with two minutes left in the third quarter.

The board capped off the drive with a rushing touchdown to start building momentum. With the offense still in sync, the Colts scored again in their first game of the fourth quarter.

The jury found junior receiver Colin Westloski at center for a touchdown. But before the extra point was kicked, with 8:24 remaining in the fourth quarter, the referees stopped the game due to nearby lightning.

The delay lasted more than an hour. It’s been that type of year so far in Arizona high school football.

When the game resumed at 6:30 p.m. in pouring rain at Joel Wirth Stadium, the Colts scored their extra point, making it 40-14. On Wolves’ next attacking possession, Raiola fumbled the ball on a pass attempt.

The Colts defense jumped over the wet football, setting up Casteel’s offense with excellent field position. The jury then hit second Zeke Rodriguez on a short pitch, leading to another touchdown after Rodriguez eluded defenders.

The score was now 40-21.

After a missed kick recovery by Casteel, the Wolves attack took over with 1:21 left in the game. Instead of conceding defeat, the Colts continued to call timeouts.

Chandler’s sideline expressed frustration, yelling at Casteel to “stop calling timeouts.” Casteel’s sideline responded with ‘We’re not giving up’.

“It was tough,” Jury said. “They came out and punched us in the mouth, but we didn’t stop fighting until the final whistle. We came back and scored 21 points in the second half, so that’s positive.

The clock eventually hit zero, but the Colts outscored Wolves 21-6 in the second half.

“With the Casteel Colts, that’s how we play to finish, to finish games,” Casteel head coach Robert Newcombe said. “It was a great opportunity tonight to compete with Chandler. I think our guys finished the game well.

During the post-game handshake line, a few words were exchanged between the players and coaches of Chandler and Casteel.

The handshakes abruptly ended as both teams were instructed to clear the field and part ways. Chandler’s players and coaches declined post-game interviews.

The Casteel Colts and the Chandler Wolves are absent this week.

They will cool off during their weeks off.

About Jefferey G. Cannon

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