High School Football

Martin, Arlington will honor Grand Prairie officer AJ Castaneda’s family at football game

A.J. Castaneda, who had served more than five years with the Grand Prairie Police Department, was killed on June 7 when he was hit by an out-of-control car as he ran radar on the President George Bush Turnpike.

The Grand Prairie Police Department set up a benevolent account for donations that went directly to his family, including his son Elisha, who has autism.

More than $48,000 was raised.

Now the community will continue to give back to his family on Friday night.

Before serving, Castaneda was a student in Arlington ISD before going to Tolar High School, where he was coached by Martin head coach Bob Wager.

Martin (5-1, 3-0 District 4-6A) plays Arlington (5-1, 2-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at UTA Maverick Stadium.

The Warriors are selling jerseys for $100. All proceeds goes to the Castaneda family.

It has Castaneda’s end of watch badge on the sleeves and his name plate on the back. Donations will be accepted as well.

aj jersey photo.jpg

“He was one of those guys that made you feel better about yourself just by being around him and he was always that way since the day I met him,” Wager said in June. “A tremendous leader and it was never about himself. It was always about the team and encouraging others, helping others and leading by example.”

You can buy jerseys at the Martin spirit wear trailer throughout the game. They will also be selling at the school on Thursday night during the junior varsity game, which starts at 6 p.m.

Wager said 25 jerseys were sold at the school cafeteria on Monday during Columbus Day.

“I called (Arlington coach) Scott Peach in July and told him about my relationship with A.J. and his family situation,” Wager said. “He realized that this benefit is bigger than a high school football game. It’s also Arlington’s home game, which should tell you all you need to know about Scott. Very thankful for him and Arlington to allow us to do this at their home game.”

Martin will wear the same jerseys being sold, which was donated by BSNSports. Both teams will have helmet decals that will show Castaneda’s end of watch badge.

Grand Prairie police chief Steve Dye and Arlington police chief Will Johnson will present Elisha and the Castaneda family one of the jerseys, framed, before the game. Elisha will be an honorary captain during the coin toss.

“I had a feeling back in July that this would be a big game, which I wanted. I wanted a great atmosphere,” Wager said. “I think there will be a strong showing from our police officers. I hope we can all come together and heal a little bit.”

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Born and raised in Hawaii, Brian Gosset graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in journalism before coming to Texas in 2014. He’s covered high school sports — yes, pretty much every high school sport — for the Star-Telegram ever since.
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