Ferndale High football continuing to battle after heartbreaking losses

By: Christian Davis | Woodward Talk | Published October 3, 2012

 Ferndale High running back Jordan Banks looks for space in a game earlier this season.

Ferndale High running back Jordan Banks looks for space in a game earlier this season.

Photo by Donna Agusti

It’s been a similar theme for the Ferndale High football team the last two seasons.

The Eagles are seemingly in every game, but when the final second ticks off the clock, they have been on the losing end of the score.

This season, Ferndale is 2-4, with its losses coming by an average of less than eight points a game, including the most recent one to Royal Oak High 18-13.

“It’s been frustrating and similar to last year. We’ve been competitive in every game, and one or two plays each game really changes the direction of the game, but we’re seeing improvement. We’re practicing better, and our offensive line has been improving. That was probably our greatest area of concern. We haven’t been able to give (quarterback) Eric Ellis enough time to throw, so we’ve had to trim the playbook and utilize what we do best,” coach Ryan Dunlap said. “We just haven’t been tough enough yet, but we’re slowly getting there.”

Last season, the Eagles finished 4-5 with four of its losses coming by eight points or less.

“We’ve had a rough go the first few weeks scoring points the last few years. That’s something I have to solve during the offseason. We’re either putting too much on their plate or we’re not practicing smart enough. There has to be a reason for it,” Dunlap added.

The Eagles have shown bright spots, especially on defense where the unit has had its back to the wall, recording a handful of goal-line stands. In their 14-6 win against Birmingham Groves, Ferndale stopped the Falcons four times inside the 3-yard line.

“At times, our defense really stiffens and plays well,” Dunlap said. “We see the potential there. We see it for a half or three quarters of a game, but we have to get it for a whole game.”

Also giving the Eagles renewed confidence are the lineup changes that have occurred. Dunlap has made a concerted effort to limit how many players play on both sides of the ball. In the first three weeks, nine players started on offense and defense. That number is now down to four.

“There’s 32 guys on varsity. A lot of them are young, so we’re trying to spread those reps out to be in more shape in the fourth quarter,” Dunlap said.

Mathematically unable to earn the six wins to give a team an automatic playoff berth, the Eagles are still ready to battle each week, and hopefully, gain a spot in the postseason based on playoff points.

“That’s our main focus,” Ellis said. “Right now, we just want to win every game, one after another.”