Ticats face big challenge in replacing kicker Sergio Castillo

Sergio Castillo’s shoes aren’t particularly big – the man is only 5-foot-9 – but they are going to be awfully tough to fill.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats kicker is likely done for the season after suffering a torn ACL in the win over Winnipeg on Friday. That means the Ticats will need to find a replacement and fast.

(Before we get to analyzing the options for Castillo’s replacement, let’s take a minute to pour a Tecate out in honour of a guy who is extremely well liked in the Ticats locker room after finally winning a CFL job and making the most of it. It’s a tough break for a good dude.)

There are several options available but all come with significant challenges.

The first is to find another American who can do all three jobs, which has been the preference under vice-president of football operations Kent Austin. While national Luca Congi did the job in 2013, Austin has gone from Justin Medlock to Brett Maher to Castillo the last three seasons while largely steering clear of Canadian kickers.The NFL season now in its fifth week, there are some unemployed American kickers out there, though few can handle all three jobs and fewer still have CFL experience – not an insignificant consideration, given the importance of directional kicking the unique challenges of playing in the notoriously windy Tim Hortons Field. Former CFLers Richie Leone and Anthony Fera are currently unemployed.

With the NFL season now in its fifth week, there are some unemployed American kickers out there, though few can handle all three jobs and fewer still have CFL experience – not an insignificant consideration, given the importance of directional kicking the unique challenges of playing in the notoriously windy Tim Hortons Field. Former CFLers Richie Leone and Anthony Fera are currently unemployed.

One name that that’s making the rounds is former Michigan kicker Kenny Allen, who handled all three jobs for the Wolverines. If Hamilton decides to stay American, there will be lots options but virtually all of them will be untested.

Canadian kickers are an option as well. Former Ticat Brett Lauther, who played four games with the Ticats in 2013 – he went four-for-four in a Touchdown Atlantic win over Calgary – has gotten looks from a couple of CFL teams this season, most recently Edmonton.

Edmonton currently has three kickers on the roster but Sean Whyte is on the six-game injured list and there are lingering questions about his health. The Eskimos are a good illustration of what happens when a kicker goes down – since Whyte was hurt, they’ve used three different guys, with very mixed results and are now using both American Swayze Waters (for field goals) and Canadian Hugh O’Neill (punting.) Would the Eskimos be willing to part with one of them? Unlikely.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have three kickers on the roster as well with Tyler Crapigna handling the placekicking and former Ticat Josh Bartel on punts. Quinn Van Gylswyk is on the six-game but may be healthy enough to play if the Riders were willing to part with him but it’s unlikely Hamilton will want to give up much – or anything – for an inexperienced kicker.

Since allowing Medlock to walk in a free agency before last season, the Ticats have held two open competitions for the kicking job and the most likely scenario will see them conduct a very accelerated version of that process this week, bringing in at least two kickers then making a decision closer to Friday’s game with Calgary.

As for Castillo, if his ACL is indeed torn, he faces a long road back. As Zach Collaros and Andy Fantuz have shown, recovery time is close to a year but given that it’s Castillo’s kicking leg, that process could be even more difficult. Canadian Sean Suisham suffered an ACL tear in 2015 while with the Steelers and hasn’t played since while Congi tore his in 2010 but was able to return to form.

Full range of motion, so integral to the kicking motion, is one of the hardest things to recover after surgery.

In meantime, the Ticats will need to find a replacement and hope that they, like Castillo, can exceed expectations. If they can’t, Hamilton’s remarkable resurgence could be in jeopardy.

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
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Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1193 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

11 Comments on Ticats face big challenge in replacing kicker Sergio Castillo

  1. we saw lots of anthony fera at training camp. he was on the roster for about a week, and i believe the final two under consideration for the roster spot were castillo and fera. (kicker ryan hawkins was released the same day fera was signed). fera had a bigger leg than castillo (much more distance on all three kicking disciplines) but was not as accurate. the question: could he be accurate enough?

  2. Drew. Good article but give it another quick proof read … you repeat the paragraph on the NFL being in its fifth week. Do the edit before the hounds descend.

    • Lancaster/Reed // October 9, 2017 at 10:29 am //

      That thats not the only error in his artcle ( hint: very next paragraph) . Drew must have a turkey hangover.

  3. Certainly it’ll be a challenge – no surprise there. Hopefully they can find a kicker for the remainder of the season who is at least competent if not outstanding as Castillo was. As for next season – that can be dealt with in the offseason again.

  4. Tore my ACL playing football 30+ years ago… after surgery and Physio I can honestly say it has never EVER been the same since… so when I see all these young pros tearing theirs it always makes me think it will be a career altering and possibly career ending injury… this is terrible for Sergio… the kind of guy everyone likes…. with a big heart and huge talent in a tiny package… truly hoping he can fully recover…

    I’ve said this before… but with all these damn ACL tears occurring even though players are not being hit… maybe we need an inquiry into the turf… can’t see any other cause but the turf…

    Just saying…

    • Hey Snake – I always enjoy your input and tend to agree with you most of the time. I hope that surgical procedures have improved greatly since the time that we had that youthful glow and maybe these guys can come back a little better with improvements in rehab as well.

  5. “No Clue Drew”!… proof read your articles at least once before hitting the send button…..proof read your articles at least once before hitting the send button.. 😉

  6. I assume that Castillo was on a 1 year contract so cats pay him 4 more games and pay for the surgery THAT ALL!! does not seem fair it will be a year before he can play again. (maybe if not career ending)hopefully this is not the end as he finally found a football home

  7. Exactly right Joe; he had finally found a home and was really getting into the community. So nice to find players with talent and heart. I hope he gets well, is able to resume his career and is given the opportunity to do so with the Cats, even if it is 2018.

  8. They signed Allen – his stats look good

  9. Snake: I entirely agree with you that an inquiry on the turf is in order.

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