New Horatio head football coach Lantz Castleman is beginning to feel at home on the job. Now he wishes his family could begin to feel at home in the community.
The Castlemans have bought a house, but for the meantime, the coach is still making the drive from and back to Magnolia four days a week to work with the team.
The Lions have been receptive to his system. “There’s been no push back, no resistance,” he said.
“Raw talent wise, I’ve been impressed. It’s exceeded my expectations. Some can run. There are some big linemen. Some are explosive. We’re not going to use lack of talent as an excuse. In this conference, if we prepare properly, we belong on the field with them.”
There is one problem at Horatio that lingers year after year. “Depth is an issue I’m trying to address,” the new coach said. “Even if you have never played before, I’d like for you to come out and give it a try. Every chance I have, that is something I’m trying to get out.” He is particularly searching for students who are on the fence about coming out for the team or not.
The Lions who are already out have been diligent about following their four day per week schedule. “We’re doing weights and speed training four days a week. On Monday and Wednesday we do offense, Tuesday and Thursday defense,” Castelman said. He stressed that at this point, he is introducing the Lions to his offense and defense. He is not installing the new schemes yet.
“They’re grasping it. I’ve been impressed with their ability to pick up new things. They are still trying to understand the nuances: spacing, angles, leverage. It’s my job to get all this across. Coaches are teachers,” he said.
“Right now we are preparing for August. There is a lot of doubt and uncertainty about what might happen. Our staff and players worried about what we can control. Right now, that’s July,” Castleman said. “August, we want to be in as good as shape as we can be, mentally and physically, going into it.”
A change of emphasis will accompany the arrival of August. “Right now, I’m trying to recruit talent, guys in the hall who might want to play. In August that’s going to shift to developing talent. In August we’re going to go with the ones who have chosen to be with us,” Castleman said.
“We’re excited, players and coaches. I want to get the community involved. I feel like the community is part of the team.”
That goal has been hampered by the covid factor.
“I would have liked to have had a public meeting. I have met with the booster club. I would like to have a big parent meeting. I’m looking to get that done before Aug. 3.
Last season Castleman was at Magnolia on the staff of veteran coach Mark King, a former HHS coach. Working with the much experienced King was a learning experience for the younger Castleman. “A couple of things stand out,” the new head coach said. “One is it’s all about the kids. The other is do things the right way. That’s what I’m going to do.”