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Ferris High School senior, Ben Goodwin, left, is making the switch from quarterback to defensive back for the Saxons. Goodwin injured his throwing arm during summer baseball. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Elbow injury forces Ferris’ Goodwin to move from quarterback

Ben Goodwin felt a pop in his elbow and immediately knew something was wrong.

What the Ferris senior-to-be didn’t know at the time, though, was he wouldn’t return for a second year at quarterback this fall to lead the defending State 4A champion Saxons.

Goodwin was pitching in relief in a season-opening American Legion baseball tournament June 5 when he felt the pop. A three-year starter in baseball since his freshman year at Ferris, he had pitched only in summer ball.

Ferris coach Jim Sharkey, also the school’s head football coach, had no plans to use him on the mound next spring.

“It’s summer ball and you don’t have too many pitchers,” Goodwin said.

He went to see a doctor two days later. That evening he received the worst news possible – he would have to undergo Tommy John surgery.

“Obviously, it was beyond description,” Goodwin said of the heartbreaking news.

Last fall, Goodwin passed for 1,274 yards, completing 109 of 143 attempts in Greater Spokane League play including 18 touchdowns and just two interceptions. In leading the Saxons to a 14-0 record, he finished with 1,961 yards to go with 26 TDs and five interceptions.

After learning the extent of the injury, Goodwin called Sharkey. Goodwin wanted to break the news to as many teammates as he could. They met in Sharkey’s basement.

“A lot of tears were shed in my basement that night,” Sharkey said. “It’s one of the toughest things I’ve been through from an emotional standpoint. He was so distraught. He and the seniors have played together their whole lives. It’s a very close senior class. I’m heartbroken for Ben. It’s the most devastating injury I’ve been involved with in 15 years as a head coach.”

Goodwin needed the support of his friends and coach to get through the initial shock.

“I don’t think any of us said a word for a half hour,” Goodwin said of the impromptu meeting at Sharkey’s home. “We sat and cried. It epitomizes what we’re about as a team. If one of us is hurting, we all hurt. I needed to tell them before anyone else did.”

Not long after he shared the news with his buddies, Goodwin decided he had to help Sharkey get his replacement ready for the pending summer camp and the upcoming season.

The player Sharkey was grooming to start after Goodwin’s senior year moved out of state following last season. Goodwin’s injury left the program without a prepared replacement.

Sharkey didn’t have to look outside his home to find his starter. He turned to his son, Drew, an all-state defensive end last fall as a junior who also started at fullback.

Drew Sharkey was a quarterback on the junior varsity as a freshman.

“He always had a strong arm,” Jim Sharkey said. “Making reads and decisions take time. It will be a learning process. I think you’ll see him improve each week of the season.”

Playing quarterback will limit Sharkey’s time on defense. He began preparing for the season Wednesday when Washington teams held their first practices. Ferris opens Sept. 1 against University at Albi Stadium.

“From a strength standpoint, he presents some problems at 240 pounds,” Jim Sharkey said. “He can run, too. We’ll adjust our offensive package to what he does best.”

Goodwin has spent several hours this summer watching video with Drew.

“I’ve just been an extra set of eyes for Coach Sharkey,” Goodwin said. “I’m not telling him anything that Coach Sharkey hasn’t told him. But sometimes hearing another voice other than your dad’s is good. He’s got all the physical skills. It’s just the experience and mental things that he needs to gain. He’s gotten a lot better.”

Goodwin was determined that his senior season wouldn’t be a lost year. He was told he could play another position if he built up enough scar tissue in his elbow to protect it from contact.

The doctor cleared Goodwin to play last week.

“I can do everything but throw,” said Goodwin, who carries a 3.97 grade-point average and will serve as the school’s student body president this year.

Goodwin has put off surgery. He might even be able to play baseball in a limited capacity next spring.

As for football, he will play cornerback. He started there as a sophomore when he backed up Connor Halliday at QB.

“I can’t give the same thing I gave the team last year, but it doesn’t mean I can’t give something,” Goodwin said.