Noah Castor’s appearance in the annual Sunshine Classic football game is the final episode of a long and winding journey that brought him to Ewing High School, but it’s not the culmination.
The well-decorated recent EHS graduate has a lot going for him in his future, thanks to earning an academic scholarship to Carnegie Mellon University, where he will continue to play football.
“What he’s been able to do with what he has faced is remarkable,” said EHS head coach Drew Besler. “It’s like a movie. He’s a real life situation that would make for a good drama.”
Castor’s father died when he was 2 years old. His mother struggled to provide for Castor and his sister, and Castor moved 11 times in 17 years. After living for six years in Connecticut, where his grandmother provided strong stability and helped encourage his academic foundation, he uprooted himself again to live with his aunt in Ewing at the start of his junior year.
“I had to become a part of two communities,” said Castor, who still remains close with his mother. “It was difficult to leave Connecticut. Once I moved here, I realized I’d like it.”
Castor appreciated the diversity of the Ewing community. The football team and coaches helped by being welcoming.
“After maybe a few weeks,” Castor said. “I already felt at home.”
Castor had already established himself as a strong student while at Sheehan High School in Connecticut, and his athletic career continued to blossom while at Ewing.
After sitting out 30 days per New Jersey transfer rules, Castor was inserted in the Blue Devils starting lineup—at a new spot from what he had played in Connecticut. Instead of playing defensive end, he played linebacker for Ewing. It was another adjustment that he handled well, especially considering he’d only started playing football three years earlier.
“In middle school, my goal was to play basketball,” Castor said. “I tried out in seventh grade. The coach didn’t even look at me. I gave up on that dream. I gave up on sports until freshman year. I had some friends say I should try out for football. It turned out to be one of the most valuable things I’ve done in my life.”
“Once you’re part of a football team, it’s part of your family,” he adds. “You develop a deep connection. You expand who you’re connected with, rather than just being with your immediate family.”
Ewing appreciated having Castor in its family, and he enjoyed being a part of theirs. He helped the Blue Devils to a special season in his junior year that included their first playoff win in 14 years, and then as a senior he was a leader for the Ewing defense while also playing some tight end on the offensive side. He led the team with 50 solo tackles and was second on the team overall with 90 tackles. He also had three sacks, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. On top of that, he finished with a 3.97 GPA and scored 1440 on the SAT.
Castor drew interest from Ivy League and Patriot League schools, but ultimately decided on Carnegie Mellon, one of the top engineering schools in the country. They sweetened the deal with an academic scholarship that was a long time in the making. He had hoped that football could help him get into college, but academics sealed the deal.
“I’ve been coaching now 15 years, and he’s probably the best student/athlete I’ve coached,” Besler said.
This year’s Sunshine Football Classic was set to be played on June 29 at The College of New Jersey, after the Observer went to press this month.
Castor was the recipient of the Ewing High School football award as well. He was the football team’s MVP.
Castor was one of six Ewing students selected to the all-star game. Josh Alexander, Matthew Hunkele, Jeff Joseph, and Khalil Smith also played. Mark Rogers was selected but elected not to play.
On top of playing football, Castor also stood out in track and field. He finished third all-time at EHS in javelin with an official throw of 157 feet for third place at the Mercer County Championships. Castor actually had a throw farther than Jermaine Bell’s 173-6 school record, but it came unofficially because it was in a dual meet against Lawrence. Castor’s best shot put, 47-feet-2.5, ranks sixth all-time at Ewing. It is football, however, that drew him the most attention.
Castor was one of 65 players in New Jersey to receive a Mini-Maxwell Award from the Maxwell Football Club for being an excellent student and player.
He was awarded a $1,000 scholarship as the National Football Foundation Delaware Valley chapter scholar-athlete award winner. Castor was the recipient of the Ewing High School football award as well. He was the football team’s MVP.
Castor has a clear vision for what he’d like to do ahead. All Carnegie Mellon students enter undecided, but he hopes to pursue mechanical engineering and would like to attend graduate school for aerospace engineering. He’s also looking forward to playing more football.
“I think my biggest motivation, I really want to get to the top and be the top dog,” Castor said. “In high school, I started at the bottom. I was really inexperienced. I developed the skill and knowledge to play at the varsity level. I want to make it to the end of the journey where I can be a key player on the team like I did in high school.”
Both Castor and Besler see more potential for him as a defensive end at the college level. Castor is 6-feet-2, 218 pounds and he can add muscle to his frame and become a major contributor.
“The kid’s work ethic is fantastic,” Besler said. “He understands that team-first concept and trusting in the guy next to you. He doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder. Carnegie Mellon is an excellent place for him to have a chance to play early, and also have an opportunity to not only play early but make an impact early. A lot of times the bigger the school, may redshirt kids their first year.
The Sunshine Classic gives Castor a chance to brush up on his skills as he prepares this summer to make the jump to college. Playing against all-star talent at every position provides a taste of what the next level holds. He says he is excited to forge ahead on his journey, while his story will be recalled for inspiration by his Ewing football family.
“He’s exactly what you want a player in your football program to be,” Besler said. “He’s a kid who did all the little things and did them right. You wish more kids would follow that. A lot of kids have both parents and don’t have to move 11 times in 17 years. For him to do what he did, it’s remarkable. He is an anomaly. He should be a statistic and instead he’s going to build rockets. You just scratch your head. It’s unbelievable.”
Castor is humble about his journey. He recognizes it took hard work for him to get where he is, and he is determined to see it continue as he looks ahead.
“I just wanted to put myself in a good situation,” Castor said. “I didn’t want my kids to have to do all that when I have a family. I want to have a stable life.”