Colin Castagna would rather be down than up.
A year ago, Castagna played outside linebacker in Barrington's 3-4 defensive scheme. But this year the Broncos switched to a 4-3 and Castagna moved to defensive end. It is a switch that the Barrington senior has embraced.
"Last year I started at outside linebacker and I was standing up for the run or the pass," Castagna said. "At defensive end, I am working on different guys coming out of stance. I love to get physical and get to quarterback whenever I can."
Barrington coach Joe Sanchez said that he has never seen a defensive player who is so aggressive.
"Arguably, in my 18 years, I have not seen a more disruptive player on defense," Barrington coach Joe Sanchez said. "And we have had some pretty good ones. He is pretty special."
With that aggressiveness and Castagna's 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame, it is no wonder that he is drawing interest from Eastern Illinois, Central Michigan, Purdue, Vanderbilt and Illinois State.
"I am so happy with his growth," Sanchez said. "Just the way he has developed. But he has not developed only as a standout player -- what I am most impressed with is his leadership.
"That is the role that he has taken on with this team, and it is how he has handled himself. I am pleased the way has grown up and matured. He has worked really hard for where he is at right now. That's what a leader does."
Castagna came up to the varsity in his sophomore year, but saw limited action. He started last year, but the Broncos never really got things going. This year, the Broncos went to a conventional 4-3 defense to utilize Castagna's strength from the outside.
"We went to more of four-man front because of him," Sanchez said. "We wanted to exploit his talent and ability."
"It is where I am best," Castagna said. "I can be physical and cause havoc. I like to mess up the offenses, don't give them a chance to do what they want."
Sanchez says that Castagna's experience is another reason for his dominant play.
"With this being his third year on the varsity, his confidence has bloomed," Sanchez said. "He has identified what he needs to do and has worked very, very hard to put himself in this position. And I think that it has helped set the tone for everyone else."
Led by Castagna, along with Jake Coon, Dan Hanley, J.P. Brooks, Jacob Bulandr, Kyle Meckert, Mark Bornhofen, David Danhauer, Nick Coy, Evan Struck and Scotty Miller, Barrington, has allowed just 21 points in its last 4 games and has posted 3 shutouts this season.
"I have to give a lot of credit to how we practice," Castagna said. "Every day we come out here and we give everything we got."
"Our whole defense has bought in," Sanchez said. "Alot of that comes from last year, when those kids learned and continue to grow with it."
Besides being a leader on the defense, Castagna has become a terror on the special teams. He has punted for two years. He has also blocked 4 punts and an extra point this year.
"A lot of people on special teams consider it a play off," Castagna said. "So they don't expect me to go full out. Often times it allows me to block the punt.
"It is really incredible," Sanchez said. "Several of his blocks, he has taken the offensive tackle or end and just driven him back into the kick."
Castagna and his teammates will need to be at their best when they host Stevenson Saturday at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Class 8A quarterfinals. The Patriots, who are nursing some key injuries, still have found a way to win 9 consecutive games, including victories over top-notch teams Lake Zurich and Glenbard North.
But Barrington is no slouch when it comes to winning streaks. The Broncos have won 6 straight and are playing their best football right now.
"I am really proud of the way we have handled ourselves and gone about our business," Sanchez said. "It shows the growth in this team."