Multi-sport Star Jude Cascone Ready For Breakout 2024 Football Season

You may be thinking after an incredible season for the Walton Raiders football team in 2023 that included a region championship and state championship appearance, who is going to replace their talented senior class?

Walton’s most-recent senior class included Jeremy Hecklinski (Wake Forest), Hunter Teal (Miami (OH), Wendell Gregory (South Carolina), Ashton Woods (North Carolina), Jordan Bride (Grambling State), Cameran Loyd (Jacksonville State), Wyatt Sonderman (Jacksonville State), and Makari Bodiford (Memphis).

That’s a tough loss to weather for most programs.

And it will be a collective effort for the Raiders next season, but a big piece of the offense will run through their dynamic 2026 tight end, Jude Cascone.

Cascone is a multi-sport athlete who plays baseball and football and will be a leader for the Raiders in 2024. He started his youth football career at NYO and has balanced both sports for years. In terms of baseball, he plays OF and 3B. He was named preseason all-region by Perfect Game for the class of 2026. Cascone also plays for the Georgia Jackets travel ball team. Baseball has been great in terms of how he has grown on and off the field.

“I think it has had a big impact on the mental side of sports. Baseball is a slower sport. People say they get bored, but honestly, that is my favorite part about it,” said Cascone. “If you are not locked in on this ball and you are not honed in on every pitch, you can make a mistake so easily. So, I think it pays tribute to the mental side of sports. You always have to be locked in. That is what it means to me.”

He is currently playing for the Walton baseball team, which is 14-6 this year and has won four consecutive games. The Raiders made improvements to their stadium in 2023 and have enjoyed major crowds at their home games. Walton is looking to make a deep playoff run in the postseason, which is only a few weeks away.

“It’s been great so far. We have had some tough losses, but they have come down to the wire. There have been small miscues really that have led us to just right behind winning the game. I think the direction we are headed as a team and the conversations we have had in the practices we are doing, is going in the right direction,” said Cascone. “I think we are going to make a deep run in the playoffs. All of our guys are dialed in and we are really excited to be back after spring break. We are going to have a good rest of the season.”

“It’s awesome. The new field is great. It’s really nice and top-of-the-line. We have a great indoor facility as well. We get a lot of work in there, so when it rains we are still getting work in. We are not getting worse, we are getting better every day,” he said. “What I really love about it is that it is right near the school, and there is a bridge from the school to the field. A lot of people are showing up to the games. Almost every home game has been packed out. People love to come watch us and we love it when they come. It’s a great environment and I am really happy they built this awesome facility.”

So how does he balance both sports?

Well, it’s all about time management. Cascone makes the most of his time. Despite his strenuous schedule, he still finds pockets of time to put in work on the gridiron and earn the trust of his teammates.

“We have speed training for football every morning and we start at 5:55 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I always do that. Usually on game days, the baseball players won’t do speed training because we want to be fresh for the game that night,” said Cascone. “I always try to be there. With baseball, we have practice every day. Obviously, it is baseball season so that is the main commitment at the moment. I try to get as much football work as possible on my off days. I will go get some speed work or go hit some drills and do some catching on the weekends. I will try to get some of the receivers and do some catching work. Also, we work on blocking skills as well. Basically, I play it off baseball and whatever days I have open I just fill it with football.”

He started his high school football career with the Marist War Eagles and played a combination of nose guard and defensive end. He got to learn from one of their best defensive ends in program history Luke Harpring, who is now at Georgia Tech.

“Freshman year I learned as much as I could. I watched the older guys in front of me. Luke Harpring was a good defensive end we had at Marist when I was there. That year I just was soaking up and seeing how much I could learn. Some of the guys I played with before had a lot of knowledge too,” said Cascone. “I was just learning and trying to incorporate it into my game as well. Get a first good step, get your hands on them, and use my speed as an advantage because I feel like I am going to be faster than a lot of linemen. Just using that to my advantage and trying to get back there as soon as possible. While also being physical with your hands and stuff like that.”

Last year, in his first year with Walton he had a chance to learn and study from another great player in Hunter Teal, who was the second-leading receiver for the Raiders last year. Teal was also an all-state tight end in 2022.

“Hunter is a great guy. I loved being behind Hunter. He and I had a great time all season. One thing people may not know about him is that he is a great leader. He was the best tight end in the state,” said Cascone. “He had a tenacious attitude and always made good blocks. He always made exciting plays after the catch. I think the most impactful thing he left on me was his leadership. Every day he would be out there screaming and getting everyone hyped. He would always be picking people up, but also getting on people when it was needed. He showed me a different side of tight end I had never seen before, and put a lot of good info into my head. He taught me a lot while he was here.”

In terms of football, Cascone is one of the most fundamentally sound players you will come across. He has a versatile skill set in which he can block and be an asset in the running game playing the H-Back role at a high level, but he can also burn you in coverage with his YAC (yards after catch) ability. Cascone will be a mismatch for defenses next season and his ability as a receiving tight end is one of the most underrated aspects of his game. He showed glimpses when the opportunity presented itself in 2023.

“I think it goes back to my upbringing. I played on the line my whole life, so I grew up blocking. I’ve never been afraid to block anyone. I like blocking because you can get your nose in the dirt and push people around. I think blocking is also a key aspect. I think you need to have a good balance if you are playing tight end and H-back,” said Cascone. “You have to have a good balance between your blocking and receiving skills. That is kind of what I have tried to master. You need to have both to play the position. I think that is why it is one of the hardest positions in football. You need to know run plays, you need to know passing plays, and you need to know both sides to be effective.”

When you couple learning from great players, having a strong mental composition of football, and the hunger and leadership qualities he possesses, Cascone is set for a breakout season in 2024. He has big goals and will be a cornerstone player on the offensive side of the ball. He also gave a shout-out to his teammates and mentioned some guys to keep an eye on next year for Walton.

“Kaiden Gilstrap is my guy. The first name that comes to mind on the offensive side of the ball. He is a great quarterback. He runs really well. He pitches for Walton as well and he is on the baseball team with me,” said Cascone. “He has a great arm and can make explosive plays. Max McRaney makes really good plays. He is fast and a good wide receiver. On the defensive side, I am going to say Jake Throner. People have probably heard his name before. He is a really funny guy. He played with Ashton last year. I think he learned a lot from him. I think Jake is going to be a big part of this team. With him being the head linebacker of this group, he is really going to set the tone for this team. Noah Lavalle is another. It’s going to be them running the show on the defense out of the linebacker role. I think these two will keep this train rolling.”

“I want people to see the athlete that I am, and the impact that I can make on the football field. I want coaches to be able to see who I am. Also, the leadership that I can bring to a team. I try to pride myself on being a great leader and raising other people around me,” said Cascone. “I definitely want to be an all-state tight end. That is kind of the top goal. I would say for touchdowns I want to be in the double-digits this year. For receiving yards, I want to be over 800 or 900 receiving yards. Which I think is definitely possible, because that is what Hunter did last year and he was a big part of the game. I think with me being the head tight end this year I think it is going to be a feasible goal.”

There is nothing you can’t ask him to do. When you look at Cascone and roll the tape, he checks every box and will be an asset at the next level to any program. In 2024 he will put people on notice, and show everyone his phenomenal talent.


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