There probably aren't many high school quarterbacks who are on a first name basis with the National Football League's elite. But our Lady of Good Counsel High School junior Andres Castillo is one of them.
The son of Baltimore Ravens offensive line coach Juan Castillo — he previously spent 18 years on the Philadelphia Eagles' staff — has had the unique opportunity to spend time with and learn from a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Baltimore's Joe Flacco.
Castillo, who lives in Glenelg, transferred in to Good Counsel from St. Joseph's Preparatory School in Philadelphia last fall and was the Falcons' starting quarterback by mid-season.
“I talk to Joe a lot,” Castillo said. “Joe and [backup quarterback] Tyrod [Taylor]. I got to work out with Tyrod in California for a whole weekend. They have a lot of knowledge and they bring it to me. They give me a lot of pointers, it's a really unique experience.”
But it's not Castillo's connections that make him a special player, Good Counsel coach Bob Milloy said, though his football IQ has certainly benefitted from growing up around a coaching dad and the professional game. Rather it's the dual-threat quarterback's work ethic and discipline and the way he's truly embraced the tremendous learning opportunity he's been afforded to be the best quarterback he can.
Castillo completed eight of 16 pass attempts for 151 yards in Good Counsel's one-point loss to rival DeMatha Catholic in last year's Washington Catholic Athletic Conference semifinals. The defeat ended the Falcons' four-year reign atop the league. Milloy said Castillo “played like a champion” in the game and earned to No. 1 quarterback status heading into this year's training camp. But the two expect sophomore and Potomac resident Travis Nannen, who was brought up to varsity as a freshman late last fall, to play a sizeable role in the this season's effort to regain Good Counsel's status as WCAC champion as well. Milloy said he will know a lot more once he sees the two in live action when scrimmages start next week.
“It's great to have two guys who can push each other,” Milloy said. “An old coach once told me, 'The best coach is the bench,' because they don't want to be on the bench. It's a great motivator, it's the best motivator. Travis was the No. 1 quarterback in the area in eighth grade. We want to try and play both of them. It's like baseball, you bring in the reliever if one guy's not hot.”
Though they possess similar styles, Milloy said, Castillo and Nannen also boast different strengths. At 5-foot-11, Castillo is quicker on his feet and might thrive more in an option offense setup. The multifaceted play caller said he has spent the offseason improving his speed. His 40-yard dash time dropped from 5.1 seconds at the Jacksonville Under Armour Combine in January to 4.8 last month. But it was also his passing ability that helped open Good Counsel's run-heavy offense last year.
Nannen's height — 6-foot-3 — gives him more visibility in reading opposing defenses. The two agreed their varying strengths can keep opponents' off-kilter. In addition, an overall experienced backfield and core of veteran receivers will provide few weaknesses for opponents to exploit, they said.
“I think they can both do the passing and running part of everything we have,” Milloy said. “Certain things, maybe we'll run some option with [Castillo] but [Nannen] might be better with the deep pass. They're both very smart.”
Both new to the program a year ago, more time with the playbook and in the system will only help them progress this fall. And though each would like to do his part on the field for Good Counsel, Castillo and Nannen said they don't let starting time get in the way of their friendship and working relationship. The team comes first, they agreed.
“The thing about me and Travis is you have those quarterbacks where they know they're competing with one another and they won't talk to each other and have this little grudge toward each other,” Castillo said. “We actually talk outside of the football field, we're actually friends. We give each other pointers and we accept them because we just want to help the team.”