Coach: Jamie Plenkovich, 13th season with Ferndale (106-31), 17th season overall (132-43)
Home Field: Ferndale High School
Last Season: 7-4 (5-2 NWC)
Key Losses: OL/DL Chris Hernandez; FB/LB Taylor Bellefeuille; OL Nick Bartel; RB/DL Austin Honeycutt; QB/DB Kyler Schemstad
Top Returnees: RB/OLB Ben Broselle; RB/S Justice Powell; QB/CB James Hinson; FB/S Cole Semu; WR/CB Jacob Kildall; OL/DL Winterhawk Leighton
HISTORICAL COMPARISON: Winterhawk Leighton & Pat Humphrey
A former tight end, Leighton has been moved inside to play offensive tackle. He should also continue his dominance from the defensive tackle position, where he’ll be starting for the third consecutive year.
Humphrey was the main lineman of the 1994 team that helped re-juvinate the Golden Eagle program. His AP All-State selection that season was the first for an offensive lineman in school history.
Ferndale 35, Kamiakin 34
Oak Harbor 31, Ferndale 28
Ferndale 34, Blaine 20
Ferndale 20, Burlington-Edison 10
Ferndale 55, Anacortes 14
Squalicum 12, Ferndale 7
Lynden 34, Ferndale 7
Ferndale 49, Sehome 7
Ferndale 20, Sedro Woolley 16
Ferndale 49, Marysville-Pilchuck 20
Bellevue 41, Ferndale 7
09/02 – Vancouver Academy (BC) – 7 PM
09/09 – at Lynden – 7 PM
09/17 – South Kitsap – 4 PM
09/23 – at Arlington – 7 PM
09/30 – Marysville-Pilchuck – 7 PM
10/07 – at Stanwood – 7 PM
10/14 – Oak Harbor – 7 PM
10/22 – at Squalicum – 7 PM
10/28 – Marysville-Getchell – 7 PM
Although they have always been a 3A team, the Golden Eagles will now welcome a full 3A schedule. Playing a schedule filled with larger schools is also something that Coach Jamie Plenkovich is familiar with, when he was an assistant at Sehome in the late 90’s when they were playing in the 4A WesCo League.
“After playing in the Northwest Conference for so long, you get to know the other coaches really well,” Plenkovich said. “Now there’s a new group of coaches, and teams, that you don’t know as well, as far as tendencies and stuff like that. But, they won’t know us as well, either.”
Junior James Hinson returns for his second year as the starting quarterback. Last year he threw for 939 yards and 11 touchdowns, and he will have a lot of his weapons back. He will be backed up by sophomore Conner Obergotsberger.
Gone is the massive running back Austin Honeycutt, and his 1246 yards and 14 touchdowns, but Coach Plenkovich believes he has the most talented group of running backs he’s had in a while. Justice Powell had 827 yards and eight touchdowns last season, while fullback Cole Semu ran for 424 yards and five scores. Ben Broselle was injured in week one (where he had 150 yards and a TD on just eight carries), and is a very dynamic player. They will be backed up by juniors Alfonso Billy and Gabe Zwade, as well as sophomore Gader Fox.
Senior Jacob Kildall caught 11 passes for 212 yards last season, and he will be looked upon as the number one target for Hinson. He will be backed up by junior Jared Emmert. Senior Sky Freeman led Ferndale with 15 catches last season and will return to the lineup after healing from an injury. Junior Carter Colon and senior Jordan Cristelli will be the tight ends.
The offensive line may not have the size that it did in 2015, but it’s more athletic. Senior Nate Slaton will start at center, junior Alex Cleary and 6-foot-4 235-pound freshman phenom Geirean Hatchett will play guard. Senior 255 pounder Winterhawk Leighton moves from tight end to play tackle, and junior Mikhail Varetskiy will be the other tackle.
Leighton returns for his third year as a starting defensive tackle, and he will be joined by 230-pound senior Jack Bartram at tackle. Hatchett and Varetskiy will be the defensive ends. Other defensive tackles include Slaton as well as senior Kahlao Young and sophomore Darius Washington. Zwade and Fox figure to get into the mix at defensive end.
Cleary will play middle linebacker in Ferndale’s 4-3 defense, and he will be flanked by Broselle and Colon. Cristelli will also get valuable time at outside linebacker. Hinson has been starting at cornerback since his freshman year and will lead the secondary. Kildall will be the other corner, with Semu and Powell playing safety. Backups include Emmert and Sequoyah Julius at corner, with Obergotsberger and Watiko Leighton at safety.
6-foot-3 senior Patrick Hegarty will do the kicking, and has worked hard in the offseason to be a really great kicker. Hinson will handle the punting with Powell, Broselle and Semu returning kicks.
The Golden Eagles could have something really special this year, especially if their three running backs have the kind of year that they are capable of having. Ferndale has such a rich football tradition in Whatcom County, it’s time to see what kind of damage they can do against some other schools outside of the county.