Ferris football coach Jim Sharkey has been looking for a way to jump-start the Saxons’ offense this season.
Three touchdowns in the first quarter was the answer Friday as third-ranked Ferris handled the Gonzaga Bullpups 38-13 to cap an unbeaten regular season and secure the outright Greater Spokane League championship before 4,615 at Albi Stadium.
As its reward, Ferris (9-0) begins the postseason at Albi next Friday against Columbia Basin Big Nine third seed Wenatchee (5-4) at 8 p.m. Gonzaga Prep (7-2) plays at CBBN No. 2 Richland (8-1) also on Friday.
The game started with a mistake by the Saxons. Kicker Alex Belling slipped on the wet turf on the opening kickoff and the ball caromed off a Bullpup and was recovered by Saxons freshman Cole Pickert.
Some thought Sharkey had ordered an onside kick to open the game. He begged to differ.
“That was a missed kick,” Sharkey said. “I kid you not. He slipped. I didn’t even see it. I was leaned over getting something out of my bag.”
Sharkey then went to his deep bag of offensive gadgets, using an end-around pass by Jordan Tonani on the Saxons’ second offensive play. Quarterback Ben Goodwin hit Grant Livingston on a 12-yard touchdown pass on the next play.
The Saxons added two more TDs in the first quarter – on a 30-yard run by running back Kole Heidinger and an 11-yard scamper by Tonani – for a 21-0 lead with 5 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
Ferris went ahead 24-0 when Alex Belling hit a 38-yard field goal with 4:35 to go before halftime.
The Saxons bottled up the Bullpups – especially record-setting running back Bishop Sankey – for much of the first half until G-Prep converted a 10-play drive when Sankey hit Griffin Hare on a 17-yard TD pass with 58 seconds to go before intermission.
Sankey broke the single-season rushing record held by former Central Valley standout Tyree Clowe (2,318). But it didn’t come until with about 1 minute remaining. Sankey finished with 214 yards on 38 carries, pushing his season total to 2,369.
The Saxons limited Sankey to 85 yards on 18 attempts in the first half.
“We limited the big plays (by Sankey),” Sharkey said. “I was very pleased. He had one big run. He’s dynamic. He was one step away multiple times, which was a little scary. If we get them again we’ve got to know that and be ready to go.”
The other key was the longer the Saxons’ offense stayed on the field, the longer Sankey had to stay on the sideline.
Sharkey was pleased with the league title, but he’s not going to spend much time celebrating.
“It’s a great accomplishment, but we’ve got to move on,” he said.
One of the Saxons’ key contributors on the defensive line was senior Russell Stinson.
“Our (defensive) line coach just had us strap up and push them (G-Prep’s offensive line) as much as we could,” Stinson said. “We just wanted to keep them off our linebackers so we could control (Sankey). We wanted to control the line of scrimmage.”
G-Prep must find a way to bounce back next week. Bullpups coach Dave McKenna isn’t concerned.
“We’ll learn from it and we’ll get better,” McKenna said. “They have a very good defense and their offense moved the ball. We’re OK.”
Shadle Park 35, Rogers 13: The Highlanders (1-8) started taking control on the last play of the first half.
That’s when quarterback Levi McBournie connected on a 61-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Anderson, giving the Highlanders a 21-7 lead at halftime – after being backed up to their 39-yard line with first down and 35 yards to go.
It snapped a nine-game losing streak, dating back to the end of last year. Rogers’ losing streak was extended to 16.
McBournie had a big game, completing 17 of 26 passes for 283 yards and three TDs. He also rushed for 41 yards.
His favorite target was Brandon Atkinson, who had seven catches for 140 and two TDs. Anderson, who caught five for 97 and one TD, had a team-high 136 yards rushing on 21 attempts and one TD. Shadle finished with 454 yards total offense.
Sophomore Luke Rogers led the Pirates (0-9) with 160 yards and one TD on 24 carries.
Central Valley 6, Lewis and Clark 0: No, that’s not a halftime score. The Bears (6-3) held off the visiting Tigers (3-6) in a defensive slugfest.
Sophomore Austin Rehkow provided the points, kicking a 36-yard field goal in the second quarter and a 29-yarder in the third.
CV had 251 yards total offense to LC’s 196. Bears running backs Brandon Garcia and Brandon McClung combined for 167 on 36 carries.
CV travels to Pasco to take on CBBN champion Chiawana (8-0) on Friday in 4A play-in action.