Chapter 14: The Circle of Life
During the 2011 football season, the Castle Knights would once again field one of top teams in southern Indiana, finishing the regular season undefeated for the first time since Coach John Lidy stepped down following the 2002 campaign.
Since Lidy’s retirement, the team posted records of 3-7, 9-4 and 4-6 under former Louisville Trinity Coach Andy Coverdale, who installed a pass-happy offense that broke many of the school’s passing records but didn’t necessarily translate into wins.
With the hiring of former Castle player Doug Hurt as head coach, the Knights have begun a steady climb back toward the top of the mountain of southern Indiana high school football. Under Hurt, the Knights have posted records of 8-3, 10-3, 8-4, 6-7, and 11-1 in the past five years.
The Knights won sectional championships 2008 and 2010 and were sectional runners up in 2009 and 2011. Aside from taking the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference championship in 2011, the Knights finished the regular season ranked 5th in class 5A, the program’s highest ranking since 2002.
Knight Time in Paradise has returned.
During a Sept. 23 game at Castle Stadium with Evansville Reitz, an animated overflow crowd watched the Knights beat the Panthers for the first time in a decade, 22-13. They also watched history being made.
Stopping the Panthers with a goal line stand early in the game, the Castle offense lined up at their own one-yard line.Taking the snap, junior quarterback Mitch Gilles dropped three steps back into his own end zone scanning the field for a receiver. As the Panther linemen surrounded him, Gilles threw a bullet to junior Jon-Marc Anderson, who would pull the ball in at the 10-yard line and weave and dodge his way to a 99-yard touchdown.
The play would erase the 29-year-old school record for longest touchdown pass set in 1982 when senior quarterback Mike Davis connected with junior tight end Joe Huff for an 88-yard touchdown against Evansville Memorial. It would also tie the state record for longest touchdown pass.
Mitch Gilles, the son of Gary Gilles, the junior defensive back who slapped down Hobart’s final pass in the 1982 championship season, had just erased one of the last remaining records of his father’s championship team. If you wait long enough, life does indeed come full circle.
The 2012 campaign promises to be an interesting one for the Castle Knights football program. Aside from being the 30th anniversary of the Knights’ 1982 championship season, the current team seems poised to make some noise of its own as it returns Gilles and most of the skill position players from that 11-1 team.