After playing two quarterbacks with mixed results last fall, Ellensburg will be back to a more traditional approach this season.
New coach Jeff Zenisek plans to rely on Ryan Ferguson to run an offense designed to spread the ball around. After sharing time with dual threat Brady Helgeson, Ferguson expects to be more comfortable in his new role.
“I feel like I’m the type of guy that once you get out there, it takes me a while to kind of get used to the feel,” Ferguson said.
He showed off a strong arm last season, particularly when he threw two touchdown passes in the Bulldogs’ 26-14 win over Prosser. The return of all league running backs Henry Rinehart and Dion Hardeman should keep Ferguson primarily as a pocket passer, although he’s a capable scrambler if needed.
Perhaps the biggest question for Ellensburg’s offense will be who steps up to become Ferguson’s top targets. First-team all-CWAC North wide receiver Riley Seed graduated last spring, along with Spencer Conaway.
“They’re raw right now,” Zenisek said of his wide receivers. “That’s one of those deals you’ve got to work on all summer.”
Ferguson’s put in the time, providing encouragement for his teammates as they develop. He’s hoping to throw a little more this season, but don’t expect the Bulldogs to abandon the success of their ground game.
Finding the right way to motivate teammates is something Zenisek said Ferguson has done well in situations like a 7-on-7 tournament at a Central Washington camp. Ferguson wants to be able to take control when needed to fix some of the inconsistency in last year’s offense.
As usual, the Bulldogs will be tested early when they face Class 1A powerhouse Royal, followed by defending Big Nine champion Eastmont. Ferguson expects to be ready with more options and plenty of confidence.
“Last year I felt like we would get in a game and we’d run a lot of the same plays,” Ferguson said. “This year I feel like there’s a variety of plays we can run.”