Wednesday, November 25, 2015         


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Oregon State’s Masaniai stuffs the run

By Billy Hull


Castro Masaniai wasn’t interested in rehashing Oregon State’s first loss of the season Saturday.

That’s just not the way things are done in Corvallis, Ore.

“We don’t really think about the last game too much,” Masaniai said over the phone on Monday.

“Coach (Mike) Riley always preaches how we live in a vacuum and to take it one week at a time.

“Right now we’re 0-0 and focusing on Arizona State.”

The 13th-ranked Beavers will be tested against the Sun Devils this weekend after having their undefeated season end in a 20-17 loss to Washington on Saturday.

Ranked 11th in the latest BCS standings, the Beavers still control their own destiny toward a Pac-12 championship. Should they win out and end the season by beating rival Oregon, OSU would advance to the Pac-12 title game for a shot at playing in its first Rose Bowl since 1965.

But again, all of that is meaningless right now to Masaniai.

“I don’t know about any of that,” the 2007 Waipahu graduate said. “We just want to be 1-0 after this week. That’s how we approach things.”

OSU’s turnaround from a 3-9 season in 2011 is mirrored by Masaniai’s breakout senior season.
After suffering season-ending injuries the previous two seasons, Masaniai has started every game this year. The 350-pound defensive tackle is the anchor in the middle of a defensive line that is largely responsible for OSU’s fifth-ranked defense against the run.

Oregon State has allowed a paltry 83.4 rushing yards a game. Only Alabama, Stanford, Florida State and Maryland have been better.

“I just feel like being able to run the ball and being able to stop it,” Masaniai said when asked the difference between this year and last. “I feel good (this year), but I couldn’t care less about the stats and stuff.

“All I care about is winning games and everything else will take care of itself.”

Masaniai’s 2010 season ended after seven games due to a shoulder injury. He came back last year to start the first two games and played in five total before breaking his leg against BYU.

Now healthy, Masaniai has already set a career high with 15 tackles, and he had 11⁄2 sacks in the loss to the Huskies.

As a senior in high school, Masaniai was first-team All-OIA as an offensive lineman and earned second-team honors as a defensive lineman.

He led the Marauders to an OIA White championship and advanced to the state semifinals during his junior year. He is the only Waipahu alumnus currently playing Division I football.

“I have a lot of guys from high school texting me and saying, ‘Good job’ and stuff,” Masaniai said. “It helps a lot now that our games are being televised.”

Saturday’s game against Arizona State will be shown on ESPN2 at 4:30 p.m. Hawaii time.

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