Nathan Castorena believes he has landed in a great spot to start his career as a head football coach.
Castorena was hired for that position at Bexley High School after board approval March 13. He was the offensive line coach at Olentangy Orange the past three seasons.
“It’s a great opportunity in a great school and a great community,” Castorena said. “I’m excited to have this opportunity to build the program and build on a lot of great work coach (John) Smith has done here.”
Castorena is a 2004 graduate of Napoleon and has degrees from Ohio State and Notre Dame College in South Euclid. He also has been an assistant at DeSales, Gahanna and Grove City.
“I graduated from a small school, Napoleon, and I like the idea of coaching at a similar type of school,” said Castorena, whose alma mater plays in Division IV. “We had lots of multi-sport and multi-activity athletes (at Napoleon), and it’s a similar culture here. I not only played football, but was in track (and field) and was on the quiz bowl team.
“Bexley is one of the top institutions in the state (kindergarten) through (grade) 12. They are very focused on the classroom, and I like that. We can have good football teams with cerebral players like that.”
Castorena teaches history at Gahanna, but is open to moving to the Bexley district if a position becomes available.
Orange football coach Zebb Schroeder said his former assistant has all the makings of a good head coach.
“When you build a staff, your defensive coordinator and offensive line coach probably have to be the two most reliable guys,” Schroeder said. “Nathan is an unbelievable communicator and does an awesome job in the classroom. He’s really cutting edge in what he does.”
Smith led Bexley for 10 seasons. Last fall, the Lions finished 11-1, losing to Hamilton Township 26-20 in a Division III, Region 11 semifinal. They had their first 10-0 regular season, reached the postseason for the fourth consecutive year and won their second consecutive MSL-Ohio Division title.
Bexley also played its first home playoff game, defeating Whitehall 31-21 in the first round for its first postseason victory.
“Coach Castorena has all the qualities that I look for in a coach,” athletics director Eli Goldberger said. “He truly approaches coaching from an educator’s perspective. He is a strong communicator and has a passion for working with young people.”
Castorena inherits a team that is losing several key seniors, including four who earned all-state honors last season in linebacker John Corcella, offensive lineman Parker Getz, quarterback and defensive back Simon Kroos and running back Micah Fliegel.
Leading the expected returnees are juniors Grant Robinson (OL/DL; honorable mention all-district, second-team all-league), Henry Bredemeier (RB/DB; honorable mention all-league), Tyler Mitchell (WR/RB/DB), Mason Remeis (DB) and Wesley Woodward (WR/DB).
“Over the last few seasons (at Orange), we ran a hybrid wing-T and I expect to take a lot of principles from that,” Castorena said. “We will have a lot of guys who have not started and don’t have a lot of (varsity) experience. We want a scheme that will be simple enough that they can be disciplined and able to execute it effectively.”