Sunny Hills running back Brandon Castelo looks for space to run against Saddleback's David Sanchez during their football game at Buena Park High School Thursday night.

Castelo helps power Sunny Hills to victory


BUENA PARK - There’s another contending team and running back to follow in the ultra-tough Freeway League.

Running back Brandon Castelo rushed for 164 yards and scored three touchdowns to help Sunny Hills defeat Orange Coast League contender Saddleback, 43-21, at Buena Park High on Thursday.

Castelo scored on touchdown runs of 13 and 57 yards and caught a 55-yard touchdown for the Lancers (3-1).

“I knew he was really good,” Sunny Hills senior running back David Cabral said of Castelo, a junior who played safety last season. “(But) I didn’t think he was going to emerge this quick.”

Castelo rushed for 197 yards last week in a 16–13 victory against Godinez, Saddleback’s top rival.

Cabral helped power the Lancers’ double-wing attack by rushing for 138 yards, including touchdowns of 24 and 30 yards.

The Lancers rushed for 331 yards, 72 yards above their average, behind linemen Baun Duangsri, Rodolfo Bustos, Marquis Knighten, Peter Garcia and John Gawlik.

Sunny Hills’ offense was productive without quarterback Malcolm Dixon, who was limited to playing safety because of a shoulder injury.

"If we can continue to improve, we can be a contender come league,” Sunny Hills coach Pete Karavedas said. “We feel we’re improving, but we know the rest of the Freeway League is improving as well.”

Running back Pedro Leon rushed 26 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns for Saddleback (2-1), which was seeking its first 3-0 start since 1985.

Castelo broke a 57-yard touchdown run on the Lancers’ first play of the second half. Sophomore quarterback Brandon Won ran in the 2-point conversion for 36-7 lead.

Castelo's run came one play after Dixon delivered a big hit in the secondary to break up a fourth-down pass from the Lancers 43.

Sunny Hills scored on all four of its first-half possessions to sprint to a 28-7 lead at halftime.

Castelo helped the Lancers finish the second quarter with a flurry. He raced out of the backfield in a rare pass attempt by Sunny Hills and zigzagged 55 yards for a touchdown with 42 seconds left.

On a play coming out of a timeout, Castelo took about a 20-yard pass from Won and raced through the secondary. Cabral ran in the 2-point conversion.

The score capped a swift, four-play, 67-yard drive that lasted 1:44.

Castelo scored on a 13-yard run about three minutes earlier.

Sunny Hills opened the first quarter with a seven-play, 74-yard scoring drive that chewed up 3:59 before Cabral scored on a 24-yard run on fourth-and-1.

Saddleback scored on its own fourth-down play in the second quarter as Leon scored on a 2-yard run on fourth-and-goal.

The Roadrunners highlighted their second half by forcing a fumble at the Sunny Hills 46 early in the fourth quarter. They then turned the game's lone turnover into a 6-yard TD pass by Osvaldo Zuno to wide receiver Nathan Ramirez.

Saddleback trimmed Sunny Hills' deficit to 36-21 with just under six minutes left but its onside kick failed, the Lancers responded with a 30-yard TD run by Cabral with 2:52 remaining.

"We have to get better," Saddleback coach Randy Thompson told his players afterward.

The Lancers open Freeway League play against Troy on Oct. 9 at Buena Park.

RELATED: Trinity League football podcast

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