Casado heading to Division II school; Vanosdell and Rivera to NAIA
Despite not making the postseason in 2015, Buckeye’s football team had a successful year, winning seven games. The team’s success helped five senior graduates land collegiate football homes this fall.
“It’s a real credit to the boys,” said Buckeye coach Kelley Moore, who’s been at the helm for two seasons. “To be honest, we probably had more talented kids my first year, but these guys have done such a better job with their grades and following through with schools.”
The five graduating seniors who will play college football are Jordy Casado, Yancey Vanosdell, Dustin Rivera, Robert Aceves and Kevin Pinckney. All five are going to Division II schools or smaller.
“I’m a big proponent of small schools,” Moore said. “Big schools are great if you’re great, if you’re that kind of kid. I’d rather see my guys go to a smaller school and actually play. You’d have a great college football experience, graduate, go get your master’s degree somewhere. In the meantime, play some college football. It’s a lot of fun.”
Moore did some college coaching at a small school, Thiel College in Greenville, Pa., and he coached a junior college team in California. He helped his Buckeye athletes with the selection process initially, he said.
“We have questions I want to make sure they ask coaches, that maybe kids and parents don’t think of,” Moore said. “One of my favorites is to find a student that is not an athlete and ask them what they don’t like about the place, because anybody can deal with the good things. If what that current student says, you go, I don’t like that either, then don’t go there, you need to find another school.”
Casado, who was a wide receiver for the Hawks, is going to Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colo. It’s a Division II school that competes in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
“I’m really excited because it’s a big step in my life,” Casado said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Casado had a stellar season for Buckeye in 2015, catching 49 passes for 1,037 yards and 14 touchdowns. As a junior, Casado only had one reception.
“He bought into our training, the year-round training, so we got two years of it and he got to see himself, especially in track, going from being pretty good to being really good,” Moore said. “I think that helped him, especially with a Division II school because he’ll be able to do football and track. He’s a quiet kid. He’s going to have to continue to grow in the leadership category, but he’s a super respectful young man.”
Casado was recruited after the Agua Fria game in October, he said. The Hawks lost 42-36, but Casado had 12 catches for 297 yards.
“They went to look at another kid and ended up seeing me and they were interested in what I did,” Casado said. “It was crazy.”
Casado took his visit to Colorado Mesa in February.
“I liked it because I got to meet a couple of the players and some of them came from different states, and they said they liked it, so hopefully, I’ll have the same experience myself,” Casado said.
Casado hopes to play wide receiver at Colorado Mesa, but he’d be happy playing any position, he said.
The biggest thing he learned at Buckeye that he’ll take moving forward is how to be a leader, like his coach.
“Coach Moore pays attention to every single player and works with everyone individually to make them a better player,” Casado said.
In addition to a great season on the gridiron, Casado was the 2016 Division III triple jump champion in track and field.
“I came in thinking I was going to win long jump because I was the leader in my division, and I ended up winning the triple jump, so it was kind of crazy because I expected the opposite,” Casado said.
The long jump was the first of the two events, and Casado leaped 21 feet, 10.75 inches to place sixth.
“I was kind of down, like, oh gosh, I’m going to go home with nothing,” Casado said. “One of my coaches talked to me and was like, let it go, come back and do triple jump, and that’s what I did and ended up winning triple jump.”
Casado’s winning jump was 45-00.25. Because of his strong track season, he might get a spot on the Colorado Mesa track team, he said.
Casado plans to study health and science, or business, he said.
Both Vanosdell and Rivera will be attending Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan. It’s an NAIA school that plays in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.
“Yancey and Dustin, those two guys are like your backbone of your program,” Moore said. “They do what you say when you say, and they take guys with them when they do it; good teachers of the younger kids. Our linemen this year, I think, are going to benefit greatly from their leadership the last couple years. I think Southwestern is getting a good pair right there, and hopefully, we’ll create a pipeline.”
Rivera was a center and defensive tackle for Buckeye. He had 21 tackles and caused one fumble.
Vanosdell played guard and defensive tackle for the Hawks. Defensively, he had 22 tackles and forced one fumble in 2015. He said it means a lot to know he’ll be playing college football this fall.
“It’s a dream come true just to be able to say I played at the collegiate level and still have my football career continue,” Vanosdell said.
Vanosdell found his way to Southwestern because of a Buckeye alumni, Ricky Higuera.
“He referred me to the coach and two days after, they called me and said they wanted me there, and they offered me within a week,” Vanosdell said.
Vanosdell said he liked the school because it’s in a small town like Buckeye and he’s looking forward to attending with one of his Hawks teammates.
“It does make it more special,” Vanosdell said. “I’ll have at least a friend when I get there. We’re both easy to make friends with, so it should be fun for us.”
Vanosdell said he learned how to be disciplined while playing at Buckeye, including keeping teammates accountable for their actions.
“If they say they’re going to do pushups for cursing and they don’t do them, you have to hold them accountable,” Vanosdell said.
Vanosdell plans to major in biology.
Aceves and Pinckney
Aceves will stay local and attend Phoenix College, which plays in the National Junior College Athletic Association. Aceves played mostly outside linebacker for the Hawks last year, leading the team with 121 tackles. He also had five passes defensed, two fumble recoveries and 1.5 sacks.
“That’s another kid that over the course of one year of year-round training really developed himself,” Moore said. “I don’t mean it in a bad way, but he went from an average athlete to a team leader, on the field and off the field.”
Pinckney will attend Victor Valley College in Victorville, Calif. It’s a community college that plays in the American Mountain Conference.
Pinckney’s senior season at Buckeye included 50 tackles, four sacks, one fumble recovery and one blocked punt.
“He grew up a lot,” Moore said. “He was a little bit immature as a junior when he came to us, struggled, then, this last year really grew up and did really well.
“He’s got a nose for the ball, his personality, he can flip the switch from being a good kid to being a mean kid — on the football field — and that was really beneficial to him.”
Casey Pritchard can be reached at email@example.com
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