BOONE — Watauga quarterback Anderson Castle has had a busy 2018-19 school year, especially on the athletic fields.
Castle, after attending summer workouts to get ready for the 2018 football season, started the year with football season Aug. 1. Even when Castle went down to an elbow injury on the third play of the season, Castle stayed with the team, returned the seventh game of the season and stuck with the Pioneers until the season was over.
He did not get any days off before beginning basketball. After basketball season, Castle stepped right onto the baseball diamond without missing a day.
Then when baseball was over, he had a weekend before spring football workouts started on May 13.
“I had three (days off) last week before we started,” Castle said the first day of spring practice. “But it’s all right. I enjoy sports or I wouldn’t play them. It’s part of it. I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t playing sports.”
Castle likes to hit the fishing hole when he gets the chance, but for the rest of spring workouts, and during summer workouts, Castle will put his efforts into improving on an impressive football resume.
Despite his injury, Castle was named All-Northwestern Conference in his second year as starting quarterback. Castle ran for 741 yards and 11 touchdowns in seven games. He also averaged 9.1 yards per carry, and threw for 549 yards and nine touchdowns against just three interceptions in 2018.
He goes into his third year as the starter and his senior year firmly entrenched as a team leader of a team that went 13-1 overall and won a Northwestern Conference championship with a 7-0 record.
The Pioneers reached the third round of the state 3-AA playoffs, where they lost to eventual state champion Weddington.
“We know we’re going to have a bigger target on us after going undefeated in the regular season last year,” Castle said. “We don’t really care about that. We’re going to go out and take care of our business and do what we can do to be the best we can.”
Castle was fortunate to play at all during the 2018 season. Castle injured his wrist on the third play of the season at Asheville T.C. Roberson and did not return until the seventh game of the season.
Castle remembered the play. It was run to the right side of the Watauga offensive line and he ended up running the ball.
“All I remember is making a guy miss and then getting a helmet on my wrist, and then trying to get up and realizing I can’t because it was numb,” Castle said. “I knew right then it wasn’t going to be good.”
Castle could have shut down, sat on the sidelines and patiently wait for his elbow to heal. He actually did wait for his elbow to get better, as difficult as that was, but Castle took the time away from the field to improve mentally on the sidelines.
Castle also benefitted from the way backup quarterback Jackson Greene played. Watauga won all six games when Greene was in charge of the offense, which let Castle allow for his elbow to heal properly, and to learn more about football.
“It was pretty tough, but I learned a lot from it, just from watching practices and games,” Castle said. “Just because I wasn’t playing, I still had to be a good team player and encourage everybody, but I was definitely ready to get back there.”
Castle first returned on the defensive side of the ball in a victory over Wilkes Central, but returned to quarterback to lead the Pioneers past Hickory 43-23. Castle admitted to being a bit nervous about playing with the injury, but once the game started, he returned to a more competitive mode.
“For the first game, it was different making sure the wrist was staying healthy,” Castle said. “After that first game I felt I was back and completely fine.”
Watauga faces a season not only with a target on their backs, but without several weapons from 2018. The most notable is the absence of running back Bryce Satterfield, who moved to Louisville with his family when his father, former App State head coach Scott Satterfield, took the head coaching position at University of Louisville.
Watauga also must replace two offensive linemen and wingback Zach West. Watauga also returns just four starters on defense.
Castle knows that defenses will work to stop his running. Castle has been working on his passing during the off season, but knows defenses are likely to think about stopping the Pioneers’ running game.
Castle said he’s worked on his passing mechanics, but knows what makes the Watauga offense dangerous.
“We’re a running offense. Something I’ve worked on is throwing,” Castle said. “I think I will be better at it this year and the last two years, but everybody knows Watauga runs the football.”