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Castonguay’s success at Air Force making Garden City proud

 Castonguay’s success at Air Force making Garden City proud

Eian Castonguay is pictured with his parents Paul Castonguay and Dana Moore.

On Nov. 20, 2021, Eian Castonguay was thrown into the proverbial football fire while making his first collegiate start for the Air Force Academy.

A two-way gridiron star at Garden City High School before graduating in 2018, Castonguay — at the time a sophomore defensive back for the Falcons — was tasked with helping defend a University of Nevada offense that featured 2022 NFL draftees Austin Corbett (a tight end selected in the second round by Cleveland), Romeo Doubs (a wide receiver taken in the fourth round by Green Bay) and Carson Strong (a quarterback signed to a free agent contract by the Philadelphia Eagles).

Castonguay, who moved from Westland to Garden City when he was in first grade, proved he was up to the task, recording a team-high-tying eight tackles in Air Force’s overtime victory.

“I remember that day like it was yesterday,” recounted Castonguay, who excelled on special teams for the Falcons in the first 10 games of 2021 before getting tabbed to start against the explosive Wolf Pack. “Nevada had three NFL-capable players. It was an adrenaline rush and reality check at the same time.”

The most-clarifying reality that emerged from Castonguay’s breakout performance: He was ready for the demands of Division 1 football.

The ex-Cougar started the Falcons’ final two games in 2021 and every game in 2022, solidifying himself as a player to watch as a senior in 2023.

All-around achiever

Arguably more impressive: Castonguay has embraced the service academy’s stringent away-from-the-field regimen with flying colors.

Eian Castonguay makes a tackle during a game against Boise State.
Eian Castonguay makes a tackle during a game against Boise State

“When Air Force first started talking to me, I was being recruited by mostly MAC (Mid-American Conference) schools like Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan, along with some D2 and D3 schools,” he said. “The funny thing is, I knew about Navy and Army, but I knew very little about Air Force.

“The more the MAC schools beat around the bush (during the recruitment process), Air Force started to become a strong possibility. And my parents talked to me about the value of the full-ride scholarship Air Force was offering. I made the commitment and I couldn’t be happier.”

Castonguay attended the academy’s preparatory school in the year following his high school graduation and prior to his freshman year at Air Force.

“The preparatory school is for guys who are interested in attending the Air Force Academy, but might not be quite ready for the academic demand,” he said. “It helped me get ready to excel at the next level — both academically and athletically.”

Castonguay admitted his perception of Air Force was different than the reality.

“Just from watching movies when I was young, I figured the basic training was going to be crazy difficult and that the environment was going to be super-intense,” he said. “What I learned, though, was that if you’re a person who can generally find a way to fit in and get past the first year, it’s not that bad.

“My freshman year was tough, obviously, because of the academic demands … and it’s exhausting because you start your day much earlier than everyone else and your day ends much earlier than everyone else’s. But my time-management skills became so much better after that first year and I’ve been cruising ever since.”

Demanding transition

The transition from high school football superstar to being thrown into the mix with close to 100 equally-accomplished athletes required shifting into an extra gear of perseverance, he revealed.

“You learn quickly that everyone on the roster can make plays, so you have to ask yourself, ‘What can I do to separate myself from the others?’,” Castonguay said. “I realized I had to put extra time in watching film, spend more time getting stronger. I knew I had it in me, but was I disciplined enough to actually get myself to do it?”

Yes, he was.

After sitting out the COVID-19-ravaged 2020 season, he returned in the spring of 2021 like a man on a mission.

“I had a great off-season (before the 2021 season kicked off),” he said. “And then once I got a chance to start (the final three games of 2021), my confidence grew.”

Eian Castonguay
Eian Castonguay

Games against Army, Navy ‘indescribable’

Every game is special when you’re competing at the Division 1 level, Castonguay said, but the environment leading up to the games against the other two service academies are indescribable, he shared.

“The week before the games against Army and Navy, it’s like when the room gets a little warmer when your favorite person or an enemy walks in,” he said. “Each of the schools have such a special history, the energy and the adrenaline rush gets extremely high. I couldn’t describe it to you if I had to.”

Castonguay cherishes his periodic visits to Garden City — he was home for the holidays following the Falcons’ bowl win over Baylor — and the difference-making people who helped steer him in the direction his life is heading.

“My family, a lot of coaches and teachers have been great mentors for me,” he said. “Scott Murray — my coach during my freshman and sophomore years at Garden City — has been a huge influence in my life. He basically sat my brothers and I down back in high school and told us what it would take to go to college, play in college.

“He’s one of those rare leaders who can convince people to buy in. I’d run through a brick wall for him and I know a lot of my former teammates would as well.”

After briefly considering studying to become a pilot, Castonguay has set his sights on majoring in a degree focusing on nuclear and missiles.

“It involves quality checks and making sure everything is ready to go when it needs to be,” he explained.

If you have a story idea for SocialHouseNews.com, please contact Ed Wright at 734-664-4657 or edwright@socialhousenews.com.

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