High school football: Linebackers key for Salpointe in push for state title

2012-11-14T00:00:00Z 2012-11-14T07:09:16Z High school football: Linebackers key for Salpointe in push for state titleDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 14, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Salpointe Catholic linebackers Carlos Carroll, Jake Casteel and Taylor Powell have combined for 295 tackles and 18 sacks and have forced 14 turnovers this season.

They have emerged as Southern Arizona's best group of linebackers and are a big reason why the top-seeded Lancers are in the Division II semifinals Friday night.

Here's something else to know about them: They aren't a lot alike.

Carroll, an SMU commit, is the leader of the group.

"He's the quiet and unassuming guy until he gets upset," coach Dennis Bene said. "Then the flip switches, and he turns into a different guy. When he flips out, you don't want to be around him. He gets really nasty."

Casteel, the son of Arizona Wildcats defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel, doesn't have a switch.

"Jake being the new guy, he doesn't say anything," Bene said. "He just keeps to himself and makes plays."

Then, there's Powell, the sophomore, who might just be the best sophomore linebacker in the state and the one who likes to have a little fun.

"I'd say Taylor is the life of the party," Bene said.

"He has a lot of personality and a great sense of humor."

The Daily Star recently chatted with all three players and got to know them a little better.

Carlos Carroll, senior

Key stats: 79 tackles and nine sacks

What he does well: At 6 feet 3 inches and 220 pounds, Carroll is the biggest of the group and knows how to use his size. The Salpointe coaches often walk him up to the line because he can shed blocks from offensive linemen because of his size.

Here's to you, dad: Carroll, who was injured in Salpointe's final regular-season game in 2011, didn't start playing football until his freshman season. His father, Ray, a Pima County supervisor, wouldn't let his son play football because he was afraid Carlos would get hurt. Finally, son convinced father he was bigger than everyone else and should play.

Quotable: "Last year, when I got injured in the Ironwood Ridge game, I didn't see it, but the coaches said everyone on defense just dropped. I never think of myself as a leader of the defense or anything. But, they told me the whole defense dropped, so I've been trying to step up and lead." - Carroll

Jake Casteel, junior

Key stats: 103 tackles, six sacks, five fumble recoveries and three interceptions

What he does well: Bene and Carroll both say they've never seen a player with a better nose for the ball. The junior is always around the football, making tackles or forcing turnovers. Casteel isn't sure where that talent comes from, but thinks it's a by-product of him always giving maximum effort.

Here's to you, dad: His dad may be the defensive coordinator of Arizona, but the two don't talk strategy. The younger Casteel said his dad likes to leave the coaching to the Salpointe coaches, and if the two talk about football, it's "mostly about effort and playing hard."

Quotable: "I always make sure to run down the ball. It just comes natural. I'm not sure where it comes from. … It took a little while to adjust to the speed of the game out here, but I feel like I'm adjusted now and have been able to make plays." - Casteel

Taylor Powell, sophomore

Key stats: 113 tackles and three forced fumbles

What he does well: Bene said Powell's biggest strength is how he "fills the gap." What the coach means is Powell is excellent at identifying the hole where the offense is going to run, and being there with his shoulder pads square to make a tackle.

Here's to you, dad: Powell is trying to become the second member of his family to play college football. His father, Jay, played at Tulsa and New Mexico State and got his son into football as soon as he was old enough. Taylor has early interest from UCLA and Colorado.

Quotable: "My grandpa told me when I was younger, I used to just run around and do whatever. When I got to high school, I really had to focus. I learned how to fill the gap and always be where I need to be." - Powell

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