The Ferndale Wildcats utilized their depth at running back to great effect on Friday night, as they held on late to beat a competitive South Fork team 35-21 in Miranda.
Playing the Cubs in a regular season game for the first time in six years, the Cats had big gains on the ground from Kannon Christiansen, Trent Titus, Wes Renner, Dayton Comer and Jonah Anderson, as they once again set the tone with their relentless ground game.
And, according to head coach Clint McClurg, you don’t do that without a big night from the line.
Playing without the injured key duo of QB Jack Westfall and running back Levi Dixon, the Cats needed a collective effort in the back field, and they got it.
Thomas Fergison looked good once again while filling in under center, while the consistent Christiansen looks like he could break free almost any time he touches the ball.
Christiansen and Titus were instrumental on the opening drive, which the Wildcats took 80 yards for a TD.
For good measure, he also nailed all five of his PATs.
The Wildcats added a second touchdown on their next possession, with Thomas and receiver Issak Kasso connecting on a 35-yard play action TD pass.
The relentless running game paid off with a second play action scoring pass before halftime, with Thomas finding Kasso again, this time from 20 yards out.
Kannon also had a key 20-yard reception to set up the score.
South Fork, however, brought a never-say-die attitude to the game and a young team refused to go down easily.
“I was really proud of my guys,” head coach Karl Terrell said. “They played like a football team better than last week.”
Terrell added that it was a learning experience for his young players, saying “we’re coming along. I’m pretty happy.”
Quarterback Shevy Vanmeter connected with senior John Harding on a scoring pass for the team’s first TD, and Justin Freitas and Wesley Way would each add a TD run, as the Cubs never let the game get out of reach and kept pressure on the visitors.
“South Fork’s got fight, and they’ve got athletes,” McClurg said. “And when they have players in space, they make plays.”
Christiansen scored Ferndale’s fourth TD on a one-yard run in the third after the Cats marched 80 yards, keyed by some nice runs from Anderson and Titus.
And Christiansen wasn’t done yet.
He would close out his team’s scoring on a 67-yard TD run in the fourth.
“He’s a big strong runner,” McClurg said. “And he’s fast. And he ran away from their defense.”
Both coaches also praised the play of their defenses.
“Defensively, they all stepped up,” Terrell said. “The whole defense stepped up and made tackles.”
The Cubs (0-2) will return to eight-man football for the remainder of the season, including a trip to Laytonville next Friday.
The Cats (1-1) will host Clear Lake next Saturday.