Norwin kicker Castle seeing his profile increase nationally

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Thursday, August 12, 2021 | 6:51 PM


Soccer was once the sport that fueled Joey Castle’s adrenaline rush. The thrill of scoring goals and stopping them drove him to compete.

But when a different game caught his eye, soccer began to yellow around the edges.

Suddenly, football had a shine to it, and Castle was getting his kicks elsewhere.

He soon transformed into a full-time kicker and punter and quickly progressed, becoming the starting kicker for Norwin as a freshman and sophomore. He is slated to handle the kicking duties again this fall as a junior.

Makes sense. What are Knights without a Castle?

But his growing prowess extends past North Huntingdon on a map. In fact, it has reached the national level. Castle recently was rated the No. 1 punter for the Class of 2023 in Pennsylvania and the No. 22 junior punter in the nation by Kohl’s Kicking Camps.

He is a 4.5-star punter and 4-star kicker.

“I have made the progress I have this summer from going to camps and competing with the best from all over the nation and, along with that, learning from each other trying to make one another better,” Castle said.

Last season, he was 11 of 15 on extra points and made a 27-yard field goal. He did not punt for Norwin last season. Hayden O’Bryon handled the punting duties.

“Going into the season, I’m preparing as much as possible,” he said. “Now I have to prove I can do it in game situations. What matters is that I do my job on the field on Friday nights for my team. I am really looking forward to this season.”

At a Kohl’s camp in Gatlinburg, Tenn., Castle rated 17th out of more than 100 punters, a finish that boosted his rankings.

Castle, who hopes to kick at the college level, kicked a 56-yard field goal in practice.

Letting go of soccer was not an easy choice, but he knew it had to be done it he was going to give football his full attention.

“I was a soccer player my whole life, so I was always a little bit intrigued by kickers and punters,” he said. “Then, freshman year my friends (on the football team) convinced me to kick for them. I was put on varsity, and ever since I fell in love with the craft.

“I started to lose my passion for soccer after my freshman year, since I started to enjoy kicking so much. It wasn’t that easy to give up soccer because not being able to be around the team and friends was the hard.”

Castle also took part in the National Kicking Rankings Top 20 Invitational in May in New Orleans.

Making inroads to a Division I program can be done. Another recent standout kicker and punter, Belle Vernon’s Cameron Guess, earned a spot at Pitt. He was ranked No. 1 in the nation by Kohl’s in 2018.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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