Castleberry Motors Pioneers To First Win Of Season
9-3-16 by Luke Garza
On Stillwater's first snap of the season, senior running back Josiah Castleberry received the handoff and darted upfield, using a
bevy of jab steps and head fakes on his way to Edmond Memorial's 1.
Castleberry's dominance was a recurring theme throughout the game, for Stillwater followed the running back to a 24-7 victory
against Edmond Memorial on Friday at Pioneer Stadium.
During a game in which Stillwater's quarterback attempted only one pass, Castleberry ran the ball 32 times for 274 yards and
three scores. He used his combination of speed, elusiveness and strength to advance the Pioneer offense play after play.
"We came into the game knowing that we had to start off just creating huge holes, just getting a lot of pancakes," Castleberry
said. "They did their job and I did mine. And that led to our win tonight."
Wednesday, coach Tucker Barnard said they planned to find ways to run the ball each week. He mentioned his desire to coach a
style of "throwback football" that included a heavy dose of running plays.
Runners hone the spotlight with the ball in their hands, but offensive linemen are often forgotten when a player has a performance
After Friday's game, Barnard praised the play of his offensive line. Stillwater's (1-0) linemen frequently cleared the way for its
stable of running backs, allowing for more manageable third downs.
"There was a lot of room to run today," Barnard said. "Stone Mesa made some big holes; Andrew Hickey and Jake Gray did a
great job. It was a great night from those guys up front."
It seemed whenever Stillwater's offense stalled, Castleberry started it with a long run.
Defenders struggled to bring Castleberry to the ground. When they got a hold of his jersey, Castleberry used his momentum to
lean forward, bringing tacklers with him. When defenders got within arm's reach, Castleberry tilted his head and took a hard step
in the opposite direction, creating space for an extra spurt. Most important, Castleberry held on to the football.
"We knew what we had in Josiah, but I'd say he probably shocked a lot of people tonight," Barnard said. "He's gonna get some of
the attention he deserves."
Castleberry's physical attributes were on full display, but his mental talent was his most impressive trait.
Castleberry carefully surveyed his offensive line on nearly every carry, patiently trotting laterally before bursting toward the open
space in the field.
His combination of speed and intelligence led to 12 carries of at least 10 yards, one of which extended the lead to 24-7.
Castleberry gained 26 yards with 10:55 left in the fourth quarter, his first carry of the final period.
Immediately afterward, he was handed the ball again.
With the ball placed inside the 20, Castleberry surged up the left side of the field. Ten yards away from the goal line, an Edmond
Memorial defender grabbed one of Castleberry's cleats, hoping to slow him in time for another defender to bring him down.
Instead, Castleberry jutted his leg forward, freeing him from the defender's grasp and extending the Pioneers' lead to 17.
"I feel honored (to block for Castleberry)," Mesa said. "It's not all just me. It's also my teammates. It's a group effort. Our starting
line is a family; we're a brotherhood."
Before stepping onto the field, Castleberry and Mesa prepared for their upcoming game.
"Don't worry about it. You ain't getting touched today."