Jun 19, 2012
Over the last several years, Middle Creek has established itself as one of the top football programs in the Tri-Nine Conference.
Head coach Sean Crocker was a big part of the Mustangs' success, leading Middle Creek from the sidelines for seven seasons, five as the head coach.
But in January, Crocker decided to make a change. After a 10-4 season in 2011, Crocker left Middle Creek to become the head football coach for the Tri-Nine rival Panther Creek Catamounts.
A month later, Middle Creek named his replacement – Coastal Carolina assistant coach Mike Castellano.
For Middle Creek though, a new coach doesn't necessarily mean a new look.
"Coach Crocker did a great job coaching the offense," Castellano said. "We've got a lot of guys returning on offense that played last year, so we're going to continue that offense, maybe put in some new wrinkles to it, and defensively kind of have the same system as well."
Middle Creek football fans are used to seeing an up-tempo, high-scoring offense on Friday nights. The Mustangs have been practicing a no-huddle offense during 7-on-7 competitions, and fans can expect to see a lot of passing this fall.
Each year Middle Creek has talent at the wide receiver position, and this year is no different. Rising junior wide receiver Curtis Burston has the potential to lead the Middle Creek offense. At 6-foot-2 and 200-pounds, Burston runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, and Castellano says Burston is improving each day.
"His work ethic has continually gotten better every day. God blessed him with a lot of skills, a lot of size, the ability to go get a football, we've just got to continue to push him along and he has great drive to see how far he can go," said Castellano. "You can't project where he'll be two years out, you can only work on getting better and focus on getting better today."
Burston will have big shoes to fill. Middle Creek wide receiver Kevin Jones was named the Tri-Nine Offensive Player of the Year last season while Jon Moore was a first team all-conference selection. Both Jones and Moore have graduated.
Wide receivers weren't the only position hit by graduation at Middle Creek though. Several key defensive players also graduated from the Class of 2012.
Defensive lineman Josh Banks, the Tri-Nine Defensive Player of the Year, graduated this past year, as did defensive lineman Darius Wilkins, linebackers Jimmy Boyd and Cameron White, and defensive back Jackson Rider – all first team all-conference selections for the Mustangs. Daquan Stuart, a defensive back, was a second team all-conference selection, and he also graduated.
The defense was hit hard by graduation, but Castellano isn't looking back, he's looking ahead.
"You can't worry about what was here, you worry about what you have. We work with the guys that we have and we feel we have a lot of guys that will compete, care a lot about this program and this school, and want to win," Castellano said. "That's what you want to have."
So far this summer, Castellano says he's been pleased with what he has seen on the football field.
"We're trying to build something, continue what they have done, but build upon the kids that we have here," he said.