Ferrum looks to start a new trend...
The last time the Panthers won their first game of the season, was 2005 when they hosted Guilford, and defeated the Quakers 41-7. That year, Ferrum started 9-0, and secured a spot in the NCAA playoffs. Since then, Ferrum has not won a season opener. The following year, they opened against Guilford, and lost 49-35. Beginning in 2007, Ferrum has opened against Emory and Henry, and every year the Wasps seem to have Ferrum's number. Overall however, Ferrum is 31-22-3 in season openers since 1955.
Saturday, Coach David Harper will get a chance to do something that only one head coach has done in the history of Ferrum football...win the first game he coaches. In a recent poll question, Who is the only Ferrum football coach to win their very first game, those who responded seemed to give the nod to Dave Davis. Unfortunately Coach Davis failed to get the win as in 1994, Ferrum lost to Rowan 17-10. Others seemed to think that Hank Norton would have won his first game, but even though he finished his first season undefeated, he did not win his first game. That game against the Elon College JV team, ended in a 6-6 tie. Amazingly, Coach Norton would have to wait til his third game to get his first win, because in week 2, Ferrum tied again against the VMI freshman team, again by the score of 6-6.
Sam Webb, The Panthers first head football coach, lost his first game against the Naval Receiving Station, 14-6, and Carson Barnes, Ferrum's second coach, lost his first game against the Emory and Henry Freshman team, 20-0.
Lewis Lane, the Ferrum coach in 1959, is the only coach to win his first ever game. Coach Lane's team opened with a shutout win over Hargrave Military Academy by the score of 45-0. This win, also marked the most points ever scored by a Ferrum team to that point. This victory would also be the last that year as they ended the season 1-6-1.
Fast forward to 2011. David Harper can join the company of Coach Lane with a win over the Wasps. I look for this to be a good game for the Panthers. I believe that they are primed, and ready to start the season. Look for much of the same option style offense. Ferrum has good backfield speed, and a solid receiving corps. Marcus Mayo will begin his Senior season and I think his experience that he has gained will take him far this year. He is a talent, and is a multi dimensional threat to put points on the board.
For Ferrum to win, they have to keep pressure on the Emory and Henry quarterback Dustin Beck. Last year, Beck was 14 of 21 with one interception. He threw for 146 yards and no touchdowns. The real damage was done by #7 running back Caleb Jennings. Jennings ran for 213 yards on 28 carries and scored three touchdowns. The good news is that Jennings has graduated. Look for Beck to go more to the air, and try to take advantage of what is believed to be a susceptible Panthers secondary. The Wasps will have the ball in the air a good part of the time that their offense is on the field. So to combat this, Ferrum has to stay after Beck.
Also Ferrum, in my opinion, needs to keep the pressure on in the second half. Too many times the first half lead disappeared, or the Panthers were outscored in the second half. This happened against NCW, Methodist, Greensboro, and CNU. Do not let up. Continue to put points on the board. Do not slow down on offense. Make a statement. Make people notice you.
In the final analysis, I think Ferrum will prove to be the better team. This is an important game, in that it sends a signal to the rest of the USA South. A win will start a new trend in Ferrum football, and will give the Coach Harper something that has not been seen since 1959....A first career win!
Emory and Henry 10