Mitchell already had a swarming, ball-hawking defense. After all, the Mustangs returned their top three leaders in interceptions from last season.
That opportunistic unit was bolstered even more with the addition of River Ridge’s Cole Castro, the Sunshine Athletic Conference defensive player of the year in the West Division after recording an area-best 10 interceptions last season. His total also was tied for the third-most in the state.
Castro, a senior, said he switched schools because he now lives with his father, who resides in Mitchell’s zone.
“I feel like we are going to be a really good secondary and an overall great defense,” Castro said.
The Mustangs’ four starters in the secondary — Castro, Nic Fairbank, Khamari Smith and Garnell Wilds — had a combined 21 interceptions a year ago. And that total does include linebacker Johnny Fairbank’s’ seven picks.
Mitchell’s penchant for swiping passes is due in large part to their team speed. Castro’s athleticism allows him to stay stride-for-stride with opposing receivers. And when the football is thrown Castro’s way, he has a knack for jumping in front of errant throws to create the turnover.
The leaping ability comes from track and field. Castro specializes in the pole vault but is good in a variety of events.
:We have more team speed on defense than we’ve ever had,” Mustangs coach Andy Schmitz said. “(Cole) is a really versatile kid. So we can play him in a few spots.”
Mostly, Castro’s job will be to patrol the secondary.
“Cole might play a little receiver, but we’re pretty deep there,” Schmitz said. “This is definitely the deepest we’ve ever been at receiver and defensive back. And the fastest team we’ve had. We just have to figure out how to put the pieces together. Summer 7-on-7 would have been really helpful this year.”
The sultans of swipe
Mitchell has plenty of defenders who can pick off passes. Just look at the totals from last year.
DB Cole Castro 10 INTs
LB Johnny Fairbank 7 INTs
DB Nic Fairbank 5 INTs
DB Khamari Smith 5 INTs