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Castillo learns lesson

Receiving burns in a gasoline fire he and a friend started, Castillo "had to accept the consequences.''

By FRANK PASTOR

© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 17, 2001


BROOKSVILLE -- The instant he struck the match, Jagren Castillo knew it was a bad idea.

One day this summer, he and a friend thought it would be fun to start a gasoline fire. So they cut down some branches, doused them with gas and lit a match.

Immediately, Castillo found himself facing a tower of flames.

"Probably about 11 feet," the Hernando sophomore said. "It was huge."

His first instinct was to run, to get as far from the fire as he could. He then looked for water, to cool himself down. But the damage had been done. Second-degree burns covered his face. Third-degree burns marked his arms and legs.

"I felt kind of funny that day for some reason, not to light that fire," Castillo said. "But we went ahead and did it anyway, and I had to accept the consequences."

Fumes filled Castillo's lungs, making it difficult for him to breathe. His skin scarred, most noticeably along the inside of his right arm. He still suffers from flashbacks. But he knows his injuries could have been worse. These days, he shows his appreciation by punishing defenses.

Though out for the preseason -- doctors prohibited him from watching practice because they didn't want him to sweat -- Castillo has given a lift to an injury-ravaged backfield.

The 5-foot-9, 160-pound tailback scored four touchdowns the past two weeks, helping Hernando (2-5) overcome injuries that had sidelined Art Starks, Trevor Coleman and Rod Roberts.

"Pretty much, it's Jagren and (Steve) Cassell and that's about it," Leopards coach Bill Browning said. "We're out of backs." Browning saw potential last year, when Castillo rushed for 1,000 yards as a junior varsity player. But Castillo's burns slowed his development.

He sustained another setback when he suffered a concussion while making a tackle two weeks ago against Lecanto. Castillo had headaches for a few days but recovered to rush for 147 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown, and return a kickoff 95 yards for another score in Friday's 47-14 loss to Wesley Chapel.

Earlier this season, he caught a Citrus runner from behind on a kickoff return, saving a TD.

A starting defensive back, it seems the only thing Castillo hasn't done this season is play with fire. "Not even barbecuing," he said.

* * *

PRONUNCIATION: Jay-grin Cass-till-o.

AGE: 16.

SPORTS: Football, basketball, track (100, 200, 400, 1,600 relay).

OTHER INTERESTS: Jogging.

FAVORITE FOOD: Spaghetti.

MUSIC:Rap, rhythm and blues.

FAVORITE MOVIE: Remember the Titans.

FAVORITE TV SHOW: Comic View.

FUTURE: Wants to be a physical therapist.

-- FRANK PASTOR

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