Emilio Castenada

Hood River Valley High School senior Emilio Castenada, now an Eagle, is soon to be one of the Wolves of Western Oregon University, as he signs his letter of intent for the school, where he will play football. His parents, Ricardo and Sheri Castenada, grandparents Lloyd and Colleen Jones, and his younger sister, Marina, were on hand for the cold and wind-blown event in the southeast entry courtyard of the campus. Emilio was introduced by athletic director Trent Kroll and his HRVHS coach, Caleb Sperry, and a couple dozen friends and teammates stayed around after their afternoon conditioning workout to congratulate him. Also present were his youth and high school coaches, including Jeremy Dyal, Troy Tactay, Devery Broddie, Justin Frazier, Eric Larsen, Dave Tallman, and Pete Hughes. Emilio chose WOU over several other potential schools, and while the family has no specific connection to the university, Ricardo Castaneda, a County Sheriff Deputy, did attend Oregon Police Academy, located next to the Monmouth campus. 

Three more Gorge high school football players added their names to college rosters for the 2021 fall season.

Among those signing letters of intent was Hood River Valley senior Emilio Castaneda, a 6-foot-2, 285-pound offensive lineman. Castaneda signed with NCAA Division II Western Oregon University in Monmouth. He lines up alongside Henry Buckles on Coach Caleb Sperry’s offensive and defensive lines at HRV. Earlier this winter, Buckles signed a letter of intent to play football at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

According to Western’s football website, the recruiting service, 24/7sports.com, listed Castaneda as a two-star recruit. He was a first-team all-Intermountain Conference defensive lineman and a second-team selection on offense. He was joined at his signing ceremony at HRVHS by his family and eight coaches from his youth, middle school and high school years.

Castaneda will be joined at Western Oregon by Garrett Olson, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound linebacker from South Wasco High School. Olson was selected the offensive and defensive player of the year in the six-man division of the Big Sky Conference for Coach Mike Waine. Olson is a standout basketball player, earning first-team all-conference honors as a junior in 2020, when the Redsides made it to the second round of the Class 1A state playoffs.

Olson and Castaneda will join freshman defensive back Okean Green and freshman fullback Dalles Seufalemua from The Dalles on the WOU roster, under head Coach Arne Ferguson.

Trey Darden, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound tight-end/linebacker from Dufur, signed a letter of intent to play football at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande. Darden has been a starter since his freshman year for Coach Jack Henderson. Darden was a second-team all-state selection as a defensive lineman as a junior and started on Dufur’s back-to-back Class 1A eight-man state championship teams in 2017 and 2018.

Eastern Coach Tim Camp was quoted on the Mountaineers’ website: “Trey is a hard-working local Eastern Oregon product with tremendous upside and versatility as a football player.”

One Gorge athlete remains unsigned but is receiving a lot of attention from college football programs. Junior Andrew Savaiinaea moved back to The Dalles after playing high school football in 2019 at Eastside Catholic in Sammamish, Wash. Savaiinaea, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive end, has reportedly received scholarship offers from Oregon State University and University of Oregon. Eastside Catholic won the Class 3A state championship in 2019, its fourth title in six seasons.