Floyd Central hosted Friday night’s sectional championship meeting against Castle, but it was the Knights who sent the Highlanders packing.
Castle (8-3) totaled 517 yards of offense en route to a 42-28 win over Floyd Central – ending the Highlanders’ season at 7-4, their best mark since 2013. It’s the second straight Sectional 16 title for the Knights.
Senior quarterback Dayne Keller and sophomore running back Noah Taylor, behind a Castle offensive line that controlled the line of scrimmage, accounted for 507 yards. Keller completed 19 of 25 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns, while Taylor carried the ball 33 times for 239 yards and three scores.
Senior receiver Noah McLean led the Knights with 162 yards on 10 catches. Castle ran a total of 84 plays.
“We couldn’t get them stopped,” Floyd Central coach Brian Glesing said. “Bottom line.”
Despite trailing throughout, Floyd Central never went away. The Highlanders cut the Castle lead to one possession via touchdowns on four different occasions – three times on fourth down. Floyd Central, though, couldn’t muster a lead.
Junior quarterback Matthew Weimer completed nine of 22 attempts for 113 yards and two touchdowns – both to senior receiver Dylan McRae, who hauled in three catches for a team-high 87 yards. Junior running back Jason Cundiff led the charge on the ground with 106 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Trevor Clark, a senior receiver, nabbed a touchdown reception in his final game.
“Our kids didn’t quit. Our offensive line is (full of) senior veterans that know how to win football games,” Glesing said. “That was our strategy going in – keep pounding, pounding, pounding. We told them, ‘If it’s third-and-eight, we’re going to run the ball. If it’s going to be fourth-and-five, we’re running the ball.’ They believed in it, we just didn’t get enough.”
Castle opened scoring by way of a seven-play, 80-yard drive, spearheaded by Keller. The senior completed all five of his attempts on the Knights’ opening possession for 55 yards and a two-yard touchdown strike. After a Floyd Central turnover on downs, Keller extended Castle’s lead to 14-0 via a seven-yard touchdown toss – a tight-knit spiral on a fade route into the arms of junior Triston Wilkinson.
The Knights’ momentum, however, was short-lived, as the Highlanders put together an 11-play, 75-yard drive to cut their deficit to 14-7 early in the third quarter behind a big play on fourth down. On fourth-and-five from the Castle six-yard line, Weimer lobbed a deep ball from the left hash to the top-right corner of the end zone. Clark hauled in the reception to put the Highlanders on the board.
Castle’s explosive offense returned the favor, as it did throughout the night, in the form of an eight-play, 80-yard scoring drive, capped by a nine-yard run by Taylor. Cundiff responded with a two-yard touchdown plunge after back-to-back punts, but Taylor added another scoring run with just over a minute left in the second to make the 28-13 halftime score.
The Highlanders put together a 12-play, 79-yard drive to open the second half, capped by a 35-yard touchdown reception on fourth-and-one to McRae from Weimer. With that, Floyd Central trailed 28-21.
However, while Keller did most of his damage in the first half, completing 16 of 22 attempts for 253 yards, Taylor was the workhorse for the Knights in the final two periods. He rushed for 176 yards on 23 carries in the second half, which included a two-yard scamper to extend Castle’s lead back to 14 with just under 16 minutes left.
The Highlanders again sliced their deficit in half by way of a 23-yard touchdown pass to McRae – on fourth down, unsurprisingly – six seconds into the fourth quarter, but Keller found Wilkinson in the end zone again with 7:44 left to seal the final score. Floyd Central’s last-ditch effort fell short at the Castle 30-yard line.
Floyd Central, a winner in five of its last seven games after starting the season 2-2, graduates 19 seniors off this year’s team.
Castle: 14 – 14 – 7 – 7 – 42
Floyd Central: 0 – 13 – 8 – 7 – 28
C – Dresden Payne 2 pass from Dayne Keller (Ben Welp kick good), 10:02
C – Triston Wilkinson 7 pass from Keller (Welp kick good), 3:11
F – Trevor Clark 6 pass from Matthew Weimer (Cole Hussing kick good), 11:08
C – Noah Taylor 9 rush (Welp kick good), 8:23
F – Jason Cundiff 2 rush (Hussing kick missed), 4:29
C – Taylor 3 rush (Welp kick good), 1:01
F – Dylan McRae 35 pass from Weimer (Two-point conversion good), 7:00
C – Taylor 2 rush (Welp kick good), 3:58
F – McRae 23 pass from Weimer (Hussing kick good), 11:54
C – Wilkinson 1 pass from Keller (Welp kick good), 7:44