Anne Arundel County won't have any of its high school football teamsplaying this weekend in the state championship games at the University of Maryland, but one of its own will coach in the Class 4A title game.
Former Southern three-sport standout Dale Castro returns to his alma mater as head coach of High Point (10-2) of Prince George's County. Castro will lead his Eagles against Quince Orchard (11-1) of Montgomery County.
"It's exciting to come back to Byrd Stadium with a chance to win a state championship," said Castro. "I actually returned in 1988 withDuVal High as an assistant coach, and we won the state title, but this is special because I'm head coach of a school that has never won astate championship."
The Shady Side native has found coaching to be addictive. It's been a trip from stardom at both Southern and Maryland to shots with the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks and back to his Harwood roots.
"After I was released by the Cowboys, I dropped by Southern one day (in 1981) to see my old coach Buck Gardner andhelped out that day. I came back the next day and the next day, and I decided coaching high school football was something I really wantedto do," said Castro, who stayed as an assistant to Gardner until 1985 before moving to DuVal as an assistant to Don Phelps.
When John Voight retired after 31 years at High Point, Castro was appointed to the head coaching position last year.
"High school sports is the last of real amateur sports. It's not a business like college sports. I love the spirit of it. I love working with the kids," Castro said.
Castro made his high school coaches such as Gardner and Dick Keck in football and Tom Albright in basketball feel the same. He was as good an athlete as anyone to ever come out of this county.
Before he graduated from Southern in 1977, Castro had earned eight varsity letters, two each in football and basketball and four in baseball. Baseball earned him a scholarship to the University of Maryland, but he made the Terps' football team as a walk-on.
Castro still holds mostof Southern's records in kicking and quarterbacking. In his junior year, he set school passing records of most passes attempted in a game(43); most in a season (264); most completed in a game (24); most completed in a season (144); most total yards passing in a season (1,541); and most total offense passing and rushing (1,693).
His 144-for-264 passing percentage of 54.5 is believed to be the highest ever by a county quarterback with 200 or more passes in a season. The 144 completions have been topped only by North County's Johnny Ray, when the Knights' run-and-shoot quarterback completed 161 of 337 for a county-record 2,020 yards last year.
Southern kicking records held by Castro, who once hit a 66-yard field goal attempt far enough but justwide to the right, include: tie for most field goals in a season (four in 1976); tie for most field goals in a game (two in 1976 against Andover); most career field goals (seven); and tie for longest punt (80 yards against Arundel in 1976).
His punting prowess won him a walk-on scholarship with Coach Jerry Claiborne's Terps in 1978. Castrowas their punter for three years but doubled as place-kicker for thelast two of those years.
"My biggest thrill came in 1979 when my field goal beat North Carolina in the last minute of play," Castro said. "It set an NCAA record for consecutive field goals at 16, but that has since been broken."
His dramatic kick edged the Tar Heels, 17-14, and he went on to lead the Terps (7-4) in scoring that year with 70 points and 17 field goals. The 17 field goals ties him with two others for the Maryland record.
Castro also booted a school-recordfive field goals against Mississippi State on Sept. 22, 1979, in a 35-14 rout. The week before, in a 19-0 win over Clemson, Castro bootedfour straight field goals.
At the end of that sensational season,Castro was named All-American kicker by The Sporting News, the Football Writers Association, United Press International and All Atlantic Coast Conference.
He finished his career with 27 field goals, fourth on the Terps' all-time list.
As a punter, Castro holds the Terps' career records for most punts (224) and most total yards (8,548) and the two highest totals for most punts in a season, 83 (1979) and 75 (1980). His average of 40.9 in 1980 is the third-highest single-season average in school history and his 38.2 career average the ninth best.
Castro played in two bowl games, the 1978 Sun Bowl in El Pasoand the 1980 Tangerine Bowl in Orlando. He punted eight times for a 37-yard average as Texas humbled the Terps, 42-0, in the Sun Bowl.
In a 35-20 Tangerine Bowl loss to Florida in his final season, Castro tied the bowl record of four field goals (35, 27, 27, 43).
Tryouts with the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks after graduation followed but Castro didn't make it.