Erwin rising junior Damien Ferguson did a lot more than just take the reins in 2014.
The All-WNC quarterback played well beyond his years from one Friday night to the next, passing for 2,597 yards and 24 touchdowns with eight interceptions.
And Ferguson reserved some of his best play for the best competition – throwing for more than 250 yards in all three head-to-head meeting with Mountain Athletic Conference titans Asheville High and Reynolds.
With Ferguson under center, the Warriors (9-2) started a season 9-0 for the first time in school history.
“Damien was a pleasant surprise for us last year,” Warriors coach Mike Sexton said.
“Now we’re looking for him to improve and get better. He’s certainly stronger and faster. Now you just hope it translates to the field. We are going to have some new kids around him. But I feel like those are kids that people will know very well before the season is over.”
Therein, lies the key for Erwin.
Former All-MAC receiver/safety Chase Austin (51 receptions for 807 yards and seven touchdowns) is now a senior and combined with junior Kealin Goode (25 receptions for 217 yards and two touchdowns) to make 76 catches in 2014. But other veterans or newcomers must be ready for a greater role on offense.
Sexton expects juniors Jarred Letman-Gash and C.J. Thompson to emerge as a receiving threat, while sophomores Isaiah Poore and Quintin Smith will handle most rushing duties behind an offensive line with three returning starters – seniors Logan Cantero and Marc Peterson and junior Angel Nunez.
One key spot the Warriors have been trying to fill in the preseason is at center with Gamo Khan looking like one of the frontrunners.
On defense, seniors Rayonte Mills (91 tackles) and Trevor Franklin (90) combined for 181 tackles last fall.
Juniors Ethan Silver and Kyrie Logan are returning defensive lineman.