ASHEVILLE – Damien Ferguson drops back now and everything comes naturally.
It didn’t always look so easy.
The preseason Mountain Athletic Conference Player of the Year wasn’t even the next-in-line to play quarterback for Erwin in 2014.
Brothers Garrett Brown (2011) and Austin Brown (2013) left quite a void as Citizen-Times All-WNC Players of the Year at the position. And a different individual started the Warriors’ season opener two years ago.
Ferguson came off the bench that fateful night, sparking the offense to 27 unanswered points in a 41-24 win over visiting East Rutherford.
Ferguson’s first name was misspelled “Damein” in the next day’s edition of the Citizen-Times as it read that same way on Erwin’s MaxPreps page at the time.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Ferguson is a 6-foot-1, 175-pound senior with 5,590 career passing yards who has a real shot at breaking Western North Carolina’s all-time record (7,895), set seven years ago by Tuscola graduate Tyler Brosius.
Ferguson threw for 2,993 yards in 2015 despite missing entire games with an ankle injury.
“The games slows down a lot the more games you play and you learn to let things develop,” Ferguson said.
“My number one goal is to help this team win a MAC championship.”
Erwin’s Mike Sexton has coached both Brosius and Ferguson. Warriors assistant coach Bucky Tarr works with the team’s quarterbacks.
“It’s not every often that you get a third-year starter,” Sexton said.
“That third year is so important. It makes you better offensively and makes a big difference in how you coach when you have someone like Damien on the field.”
Ferguson has plenty of company on what looks to be an extraordinary quarterback class for the mountains.
Brevard senior Tanner Ellenberger (1,537 yards and 12 touchdowns with seven interceptions) is the WNC Athletic Conference’s preseason player of the year. Mountain Heritage junior Trey Robinson (2,264 rushing yards, 1,007 passing yards, and 45 combined touchdowns) received the same designation in the Western Highlands 1-A/2-A, as did Murphy junior Joey Curry (927 yards and nine touchdowns with one interception) in the Smoky Mountain 1-A.
Christ School’s Drew Johnson (2,717 yards and 26 touchdowns with nine interceptions), Mitchell’s Ben Young (2,535 yards and 20 touchdowns with 12 interceptions) and Cherokee’s Tye Mintz (1,872 yards and 17 touchdowns with 15 interceptions) are all juniors. Asheville High’s Devon Davidson (1,632 yards with 13 touchdowns with 10 interceptions), Hayesville’s Kyle Rhinehardt (1,308 yards and 16 touchdowns with 10 interceptions) and Pisgah’s Houston Rogers (1,165 yards and 13 touchdowns with six interceptions) are all seniors who are comfortable inside and outside of the pocket.
The Citizen-Times will publish its annual Western North Carolina football preview in the Aug. 14 edition of the newspaper.