NEW CASTLE, Pa. (WKBN) – In 2019, New Castle advanced to the WPIAL playoffs and finished with a 7-4 mark. Last year, the Hurricanes saw their scoring defense increase from a unit, which allowed just 21.6 (in 2019) to 45 points per game.
The Red Hurricanes return seven starters on defense as they’ll look to improve upon last year’s effort.
The season gets underway when Shaler pays a visit to Taggart Stadium August 27.
2020 Record: 1-5 (1-3, T-4th place in Parkway)
Coach: Joe Cowart, 10th season (47-43)
Previewing New Castle’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 28.2 (24th in area)
Returning Starters: 6
Key Returnees: Alex Fox, SR/OL; Chris Hood, SR/QB; Devin Palmer, SR/OL; Mike Wells, SR/QB
Key Losses: Donny Cade, WR; Hristo Gardner, WR; Malachi Sherman, RB
Name to watch for: Mike Wells, QB
Last season, Malachi Sherman ran for 658 yards on 96 rushes (6.9 avg) as he scored four times on the ground as a senior. Donny Cade caught at least 26 passes in each of the past two years. This season, the Red Hurricanes will need to replace both of their contributions.
Mike Wells and Chris Hood combined to throw for 880 yards (in just six games) and complete 50.7% (70-138) of their passes, tossing for 10 scores.
“Mike [Wells] has been a two-year starter and will continue to take many reps at quarterback. We’ll also utilize him wide receiver for us this season,” Coach Cowart said. “Chris [Hood] played running back a year ago and took a significant amount of snaps at quarterback. Those two players will handle the quarterback duties and will be explosive playmakers on offense [wherever] they line up.”
Look for Julian Morton (RB), Tyler Leekins (WR) and Tayshaun Wilkins (WR/RB) to all be featured within the offense.
Up front, New Castle welcomes back their all-conference senior tackle Alex Fox. He’ll be paired with senior Devin Palmer and junior Kamren Holmes, which should be a stabilizing strength of the team in 2021.
Previewing New Castle’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 45.0 (62nd in area)
Returning Starters: 7
Key Returnees: Charles Brown, SR/DL; Chris Hood, SR/LB; Tyler Leekins, JR/DB; Tristan Marapese, JR/LB; Mike Wells, SR/DB; Tayshaun Wilkins, JR/DB; Bryce Wood, JR/LB
Key Losses: Allen Bradley, LB; Donny Cade, DB; Jaylan Cox, DE; Logan Gibson, LB
Name to watch for: Charles Brown, DL
In each of their six games a year ago, the Red Hurricanes’ defense allowed at least 35 points. In each of their losses, New Castle permitted 44 points or more.
Defensive end Jaylan Cox graduated last spring after leading the team with 5 quarterback sacks and 42 tackles, and 12 of those were for a loss.
“Jaylan was an ultra-productive player for us for three seasons,” Cowart said. “His production will be difficult to replace. However, we feel like the depth of our defensive group is much better this season and the competition at every level for starting roles will create a great atmosphere for a strong unit.”
Cowart singled out his key contributors on defense.
“Charles Brown is a returning all-conference selection along the line. He’ll provide quickness inside for us. We also envision linebackers Bryce Wood and Tristan Marapeese to step up defensively this season. In the defensive backfield, returners Tyler Leekins and Tayshaun Wilkins expect to make big strides to ensure we’re much improved on the defensive side of the ball.”
Senior Mike Wells earned 1st-team all-conference for his punting ability.
2020 Parkway Conference Standings
Aliquippa – 5-0 (9-1)
Chartiers Valley – 4-1 (6-2)
Montour – 2-3 (4-3)
Beaver – 1-3 (2-5)
New Castle – 1-3 (1-5)
Blackhawk – 1-4 (2-6)
Aug. 27 – Shaler
Sept. 3 – Quaker Valley
Sept. 10 – at Mars
Sept. 17 – Summit Academy
Sept. 24 – Central Valley
Oct. 1 – Montour
Oct. 8 – at Beaver
Oct. 15 – at Blackhawk
Oct. 22 – Chartiers Valley
Oct. 29 – at Aliquippa