The New Orleans VooDoo enters Saturday night’s Arena Football League game against Tampa Bay Sharks at the Smoothie King Center without their former leading receiver, a culmination of events which placed L.J. Castille within reach of the Canadian Football League then back to the AFL — only now in Los Angeles.
Castille left the VooDoo after a 65-26 loss at the Pittsburgh Power on June 7, deciding he would pursue an offer with the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos. When he was unable to finalize a deal, Castille attempted to return to the VooDoo.
Yet the VooDoo did not create a roster spot for Castille, whose 68 catches for 921 yards and 26 touchdowns lead the offense.
On Thursday, Castille was traded to the L.A. KISS.
“It’s been really stressful,” he said. “Nobody wants to sit out time during the season, especially if you’re not in trouble or injured. To be able to start a new career somewhere else, it’s encouraging. To be wanted, it feels good.”
The move to the KISS reunites Castille, a four-year AFL pro, with former VooDoo receiver Donovan Morgan, a New Orleans native.
Despite Morgan’s 98 catches this season for 1,185 yards and 45 TDs — ranking him second in the AFL — Los Angeles averages just 36.7 points per game, worst in the 14-team league. The VooDoo ranks 12th (43.6).
On Friday, Castille on Friday criticized the VooDoo (2-10) for its part in the situation: “When I came back, I do feel like it could have been handled a little faster, and more professional. But once again, that comes from the leadership, top to bottom.”
VooDoo coach Pat O’Hara declined to discuss specifics but said he valued Castille as a player. The two worked together since Castille arrived in New Orleans for the 2011 AFL season.
“There are a lot of things that didn’t go right with what happened with L.J., but I would just say right now that it’s more important to talk about the players that are on our football team,” O’Hara said.
“We wish him the best. I like L.J., and I hope he does well in the future.”
The VooDoo enters Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay (4-8) with rookie quarterback Adam Kennedy, whose second-half performance last Saturday at the Cleveland Gladiators showed promise for the future. Kennedy finished with 224 yards passing and two TDs. He also threw one interception and ran for two scores.
The VooDoo, outscored 34-6 in the first half, scored on all but one possession in the second half (6 of 7) before losing 62-46.
At receiver, the VooDoo is expected to play with Courtney Smith (six receptions, 55 yards, TD), Quorey Payne (25-326 yards, seven TDs) and Antonio Robinson (4-65 yards, TD).
Tampa Bay quarterback R.J. Archer ranks fifth in the league with 3,076 yards and 63 TDs.
Receiver Jomo Wilson has a team-high 50 catches for 645 yards and 12 scores.