Team rips off five straight wins
By Kyle LoJacono
Academy at the Lakes football team has rebounded from a 0-2 start by winning their next five in a row.
The Wildcats (5-2) have already clinched one of the eight playoff spots in the Florida six-man football league, which has 18 teams. As of Sept. 23, the academy was in the fourth-place slot and are one win away from their 2009 total.
Much of the winning has come as the Wildcats have become more accustomed to each other as only two players, Alex Thompson and Max Osnos, returned from last year’s team. The players are not the only ones becoming used to six-man football.
“I’m right there learning the game with them,” said academy coach John Castelamare, who coached 11-man football at Pasco County schools for 38 years before coming to the private school. “I think we’ve picked things up quick. We lost our first game by a point, which we could have won, and now we’ve gotten a bunch in a row.”
Running back Jarrett Harvey, a junior, is in his first year at the school and did not expect the team to come together so fast.
“I thought we’d have a slow year, but the guys are proving me wrong” Harvey said.
Junior quarterback A.J. Carlson said the talent was always there, the team just needed time together.
“We’re come together as a team now,” Carlson, of Lutz, said. “When you have a team with just 16 guys on it you need to come together more than a big team because you can’t stay away from people you don’t like. You have to get along. Also having a fantastic coach doesn’t hurt.”
Osnos, of Land O’ Lakes, said leaders like Carlson, Harvey and running back Luke Warner has helped the team gel, but none of the players could remember a single moment that brought them together — but Castelamare can.
“It was that first win,” Castelamare said. “I think that gave them confidence they could win and made things a lot easier for them.”
The Wildcats’ last three opponents, including Zephyrhills Christian Academy, are all undefeated as of Sept. 23.
“I think the team has a chance to get close to if not win a state title,” Carlson said. “We have to show our last three opponents that we are ready to play anyone.”
The academy already has a six-man championship from the 2006 season. The next year the Wildcats expanded to 11-man football and finished 1-9. Thompson was on that 2007 team.
“That was a tough year,” Thompson, a senior, said. “This is my last year, so I’m hoping to win a state championship before I leave.”
Castelamare said after the first two losses he thought it would be a long year, but now sees a chance for the team to go deep in the playoffs. He added that the whole school is very supportive of the team and in turn he makes sure the boys do not neglect their school work.
“If I hear there’s a problem in a class then there is some extra running involved,” Castelamare said. “We make it clear that school is important.”
The Wildcats next play at Lakeside Christian High Oct. 1 and then take on Zephyrhills Christian Oct. 8 for their homecoming game.
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