With just eight seniors, Ferris football coach Jim Sharkey has the youngest team he’s had in seven years.
The Saxons’ youth appear to be quick learners.
Ferris piled up 408 yards Saturday, cruising to a 24-7 win over the Central Valley Bears in the nightcap of the WIAA Kickoff Classic at Eastern Washington University’s Roos Field.
“Getting a win with all these young guys out there, it was big,” Sharkey said. “I’m sure we made a lot of mistakes. It won’t be as good on film or as bad as we thought, but we made plays and we took care of the ball for the most part. And that was a big key.”
In the first half alone, the Saxons gained 237 yards to the Bears’ 28 – 10 of which came on the final play before halftime.
The Saxons also took advantage of a critical turnover, building a 17-0 lead going into intermission.
“The turnover that we got on the kickoff was a huge turning point in getting that lead,” Sharkey said.
Sophomore Samuel Bloom recovered a fumble at CV’s 24-yard line. Junior Anthony Bernal’s hit forced the fumble.
Six plays later, junior quarterback Christian Olson, making his first varsity start, threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Beau Lockmer, extending the Saxons’ lead to 17-0 with 5:30 to go before halftime.
The Saxons’ offense didn’t move as fluidly in the second half. But they answered CV’s lone scoring drive with a 14-play, 80-yard series capped by a 1-yard plunge by Olson for the game’s final score with 8:09 remaining.
CV pulled within 17-7 when it put together its best offensive series midway in the third. Running back Brandon McClung finished off the 80-yard, 13-play drive with a 4-yard TD run.
Leading the Saxons’ defense was senior Damon Unland, who has switched from defensive tackle to middle linebacker this season. He had a team-high 11 tackles.
“Damon played very well in his first start at middle linebacker,” Sharkey said. “He’s pretty special.”
Unland was nothing but smiles afterward.
“I love making plays and flying around and killing people across the middle. It’s so much more fun,” Unland said.
Unland was impressed with the Saxons’ youth.
“They pick up stuff really well,” Unland said. “They know how to play. They have a feeling for the game.”
Olson led Ferris with 123 yards rushing on 14 carries. He also passed for 183 yards, completing 11 of 18 attempts.
McClung led the rebuilding Bears with 73 yards rushing on 12 attempts.
East Valley (Yakima) 12, Cheney 6: What was a defensive tussle for all but 41 seconds turned on a breakaway play.
Red Raiders quarterback Jordan West hit a streaking David Garza up the sideline for a 71-yard touchdown with 41 seconds remaining to lift East Valley of Yakima past Cheney.
Garza broke a tackle at the Cheney 39-yard line and sprinted untouched the rest of the way in a game that appeared headed to overtime.
Cheney had a chance to break a 6-6 tie earlier in the fourth, but a high snap to holder/quarterback Andrew Graham thwarted the opportunity.
Cheney outgained EV 322 yards to 273.
West completed 12 of 25 passes for 158 yards. Graham was 18 of 39 for 251.
Zach Janis led a balanced EV defense with 11 tackles. Coleman White led Cheney with 15 tackles.
In the first half, a poor punt allowed the Red Devils to take possession at Cheney’s 18-yard line.
Kaleb Schrank rambled 15 yards to the 3 and on third-and-goal Oscar Martinez bulldozed in from 2 yards out to put EV ahead 6-0 with 2:51 to go before halftime.
Cheney moved down field quickly on the ensuing possession. But the Blackhawks came up empty on three straight incomplete passes at EV’s 10. Theo Petropoulos cut EV’s lead in half when he kicked a 27-yard field goal with 40 seconds to go.
Colville 20, Freeman 18: The last turnover turned out to be the deciding factor for the Indians.
After Colville pulled even at 12-12, Indians’ Kris Griessmann recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff at Freeman’s 33-yard line.
On the next play, quarterback Ben Knight found Omar Khater for the go-ahead score. Zach Shoemaker ran in the two-point conversion as the Indians took a 20-12 lead with 1:47 remaining in the third.
Freeman had one final opportunity when the Scotties took over at Colville’s 19. Six plays later on a play-action fake, quarterback Wyatt Smith connected for a second time with receiver Kellen Miller for a 3-yard TD. Miller, who had made an athletic catch while being interfered with on a 36-yard TD connection in the first quarter, sidestepped a Colville defender as he got into the end zone.
On the conversion attempt, Colville stopped Markus Goldbach short of the goal line with 37 seconds to go.
Colville recovered an onside kick to seal the win.
The Indians dominated time of possession. They had the ball 30 minutes, 43 seconds to Freeman’s 17:17.
Colton Vining led an effective attack on the ground for Colville with 82 yards on 25 carries and Shoemaker had 81 on 15 attempts. Goldbach led Freeman with 83 on 13 rushes.
Linebacker Jordan Booth led Colville with 11 tackles and defensive back Max Laib had a game-high 22 tackles, 15 unassisted, for Freeman.
Tekoa-Oakesdale/Rosalia 22, Reardan 0: The Nighthawks dominated the statistics and that was reflected in the final score.
The Nighthawks outgained the Indians 292-128, and the advantage was just as measurable on the ground where Tekoa-Oakesdale/Rosalia gained 246 to Reardan’s 120, though Reardan had a 7-minute advantage in time of possession.
Junior running back Craig Nelson led the Nighthawks with 194 on 17 carries including an 87-yard touchdown run. Teammate Steven Maley added 68 on nine attempts.
The Nighthawks led 16-0 at halftime. They added the final score when Clay Shelton scored on a 4-yard run with 4 minutes to go.