The Ferrum Panthers ended their season with a loss on the road to the LaGrange Panthers 44-28. This marked the end to a remarkably frustrating season for Ferrum as they close with a 1-9 mark. Saturday's game started out positive for Ferrum as they took a 6-0 lead at the 4:27 mark in the first quarter on a 21 yard pass play from Harvey Taylor to Marzai Tarell. The extra point by Jacob Smoak put Ferrum up 7-0.
LaGrange kicker Will Jeffcoat added a 24 yard field goal with just .39 seconds left in the first quarter bringing LaGrange within 4. A second quarter touchdown gave LaGrange a 10-7 lead at halftime.
Ferrum was outscored in the second half 34-21 as the LaGrange quarterback threw 5 touchdown passes, and ended the day 23 of 38 with no interceptions and 437 yards.
I was not a great day, and in a way it was a microcosm of much of the season. There have been highlights, but they were few and far between. For me, one of the best games the Panthers played was against Christopher Newport. To keep that game close, and only fall by two points to the eventual conference champion showed a solid effort. While I still believe that this is a game Ferrum could have won, it sure beat some of the drubbings I have witnessed at the hands of the Captains. I am very glad that they will not be in the conference next year.
Who do we lose from this years team?
According to the roster, we will lose 10 Seniors. That is not all that many....it could be worse. Those graduating are:
Tim Reynolds- QB
Tim Reynolds- Starting QB for the last three seasons, Reynolds brought a strong arm and an natural ability to run the ball. Reynolds holds the record for the most touchdowns in a season (28...combined rushing and passing), most passing yards in a season,1683, most passing yards in a game, 292, most touchdown passes in a game,3, and the most pass completions in a season,115, He will be missed, and likely replaced by Harvey Taylor.
Anthony Orton- A solid performer for Ferrum will leave big shoes to fill. Orton had 28 tackles this season, and a fumble recovery.
Tarrell Owens- A major leader on the defensive side of the ball, Owens holds the record at Ferrum for most interceptions in a game with 3 against N.C. Wesleyan in 2012, and holds the record for the longest interception return in a game of 98 yards against Greensboro also in 2012.
Jatavious Adams- Finished this season second in tackles with 73. For his career, Adams had 150 tackles. He has played a huge roll in the success of the Ferrum defense.
Breon Washington- Started every game but one this year. Contributed 29 tackles for the season.
DaVante Adams- Had 11 tackles this season, and recovered a fumble. Ended his career with 42 tackles.
Cody Jones- Has been a strong performer for Ferrum over his career. Became a starter in the 2013 season, but had that season cut short with an off the field injury. Played every game in 2014.
Brian Ruebush- A dedicated offensive lineman, Ruebush saw somewhat limited action in his career, but played a valuable backup roll when needed.
Matthew Kennell- Became a regular starter as a Junior, and finished his career at Ferrum with 37 receptions, and 8 touchdowns. A very talented receiver.
Brinnan Bradshaw- In an offense that runs far more than it passes, the TE position is one that is mainly used for blocking. Ferrum found a strong blocker in Brinnan Bradshaw, and utilized him in that role.
In the grand scheme of things, Ferrum's largest loss will be Tim Reynolds, but in as he has been out for the last two games, There has been opportunity for Harvey Taylor (his air apparent) to get acclimated to the position. I look for Taylor to provide great leadership next year. He has a lot of ability, and will fit in nicely.
Statistically, Ferrum's offense will need to be far more productive. I am not sure what exactly is needed, but there seems to be plenty of room for improvement. Look for Ferrum to pick up offensive linemen, and another running back or two. Also, I would expect a quarterback will be on their shopping list. Lastly, look for them to try to pick up one or two wide receivers.
On the defensive side of the ball, it seems that LaGrange clearly pointed out much of the defensive weaknesses... primarily the secondary. This is likely to be a major recruiting focus. There could be a linebacker sought out as Jatavious Adams will graduate, but there are several on the bench. Devante Adams (DL) will leave another opening to be filled.
Overall, Ferrum had some really bright spots, but they have to quickly identify their weaknesses and come up with a plan to fix them.
Coaching will likely remain the same, unless there are changes that are voluntary. That is not out of the realm of possibilities, but time will tell. A quality defensive coordinator needs to fill the hole left by Elmassian. I think that this could be filled from within.
Ferrum needs to complete a strong review of everything involved in running a successful program. This includes recruiting, offensive, defensive, and special team strategies, off season conditioning, and player retention. There are many quality pieces in place, but these pieces need to be brought together.