Ty Ferguson fills big shoes as Holmes mainstay for Ross football line

Before Fremont Ross played a single game this season, his greatest weapon had already been determined.

To a large extent, however, this was only true if the Little Giants believed in it. Ross went through the first five weeks with only wins.

Then, disaster in the form of a 50-48 loss to Findlay in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference. The match was decided by a return kick-off to finish.

The Little Giants have lost four of their last five games. The missing ingredient was easy to identify.

After:Luke Durbin silent assassin for Ross’ first-year football as a defensive starter

“We come back with a bit of bluster,” Ross’s coach Chad Long said. “We need our attack. That makes our team. The confidence knowing we’re not out of games. Sometimes we lost that. That’s what we lacked.”

Ty Ferguson of Ross makes a save.

The Little Giants lost 42-31 to Toledo Whitmer last week.

“We got our swagger back,” Long said. “You could see by the way the kids were playing with a bounce in our step. Hearts went out against Findlay. They lost confidence.”

Fremont Ross football feeling confident ahead of OHSAA playoff opener against North Royalton

The mental boost coincides with positive health developments, both at the right time. Most glaringly, quarterback Kaden Holmes felt good enough to return to his role in the defensive secondary against Whitmer.

“Bryson [Hammer]Soft [Adam Hrynciw] and Elijah [Simms] making grabs and Kaden’s balance,” Long said. “Boom, it took off like before. We missed it. Last week is the first week of full pads since three weeks ago we got so stoned.

“Kaden is a superhero, but we didn’t have that when he was injured. He was beaten. Seeing him come back healthy and running the way he did gave the team confidence.”

After:Karson Kayden keeps the engine running with Kaden Holmes for Fremont Ross football

Hammer’s 7-yard touchdown catch with one hand was No. 1 on ESPN’s Top 10.

Ty Ferguson of Ross blocks behind Kaden Holmes

Another factor in Ross’ never-offside philosophy is Holmes’ escape ability.

“He’s a magician,” left tackle Ty Ferguson said. “Some of the things he pulls out of his pocket, he can hit a hole no bigger than a foot wide and run 20 yards.”

The converse, which is always a good thing for the Little Giants, is Holmes’ ability to extend plays. Rather than blocking for a little crease, the linemen have to back up and find new blocks as Holmes scrambles.

“There are plays that I block, my guy is in front of me and I have him, then Kaden goes past two people at once,” Ferguson said. “You have to stay on it and have a sixth sense of where Kaden is. He just knows.

“If he feels pressure he knows when to run and when we give him time without pressure and with a clean pocket, that’s a nice thing. The plays he can make.”

Ross' Ty Ferguson and Carter Rodriguez

Ross (6-4) hosts North Royalton (6-4) in the first round on Friday in Division II Region 6. The Little Giants outscored North Royalton 27-17 last season.

For Fremont Ross football coach Chad Long, getting better means getting physical

“They pretty much do the same things,” Long said. “North Royalton are not flashy. It’s like starting over last year. North Royalton at home, win and we get Avon. We wanted to emulate Avon and to beat a team like Avon, we have to be like Avon.

“The physique and getting into the weight room. You have to be strong and play four quarterbacks like they do. We’ll give them adjustments with skill, but we need to improve with the physique and perform on defense against the Findlays and the Catholics. central.”

After:Archie Griffin wanted to meet the Long family

Ross’ priority objective is still in front of him.

“Our goal of talking with the coaches as seniors before the season, it didn’t go the way we wanted for TRAC,” Ferguson said. “Now it’s time to play ball, shut your mouth and punch someone in the mouth. Winning two playoff games was one of the biggest goals.

“We want to shock the world.”

Ross's Ty Ferguson

Aside from Holmes’ ankle, toe, knee and neck, Ross’ attack was held back by a lack of consistency. The Little Giants beat Whitmer from 453 yards to 351.

Whitmer, however, picked up a 6 pick and returned another interception to the 1-yard line to set up another score. Similar turnovers have been a friendly companion to Ross’ defense for five games, with a 22-to-11 advantage in overall ratio.

Taron Crawford had 198 yards and four touchdowns on 34 tries.

Holmes rushed for 153 yards and two scores on 21 carries and completed 12 of 31 passes for 241 yards.

“Everything goes through Kaden,” Long said. “The way we play in attack is based on Kaden. Our attack sometimes crumbles. Other times it’s on fire. Right now we’re looking for consistency.”

Holmes has 1,996 passing yards and 16 touchdowns. He has 759 yards and 14 rushing scores.

“He’s got 30 touchdowns, but he missed a game and he lost another one to St. John’s,” Long said. “He didn’t run as much as we wanted him to until [Whitmer]. For anyone else, it’s been an incredible year, but he’s been injured since Clay.”

Ross was without Anthony Vann and lost Kelandre Jones to injury, after rushing for a score against Whitmer. Ricky Howard and now-eligible Ja’Darrius Moncrief are options for running back.

Fremont Ross football team driven by ‘next man’ mentality

“It’s our iron,” Long said of Moncrief on the scout team. “You dent him, beat him, bend him — he keeps getting up. He gets up every time.”

Ty Ferguson of Ross hoists Elijah Simms in the air after Simms' interception.

Ferguson might be Ross’ most consistent facet on offense this season.

“For two years he played right next to Ethan [Green]a stallion that can cover a lot,” Long said. “He had London [Johnson] on another side. It is very close to London. He just paid a visit to Concordia, where London is.

“When you lose your buddies that you used to play with, now you’re the guy. He’s accepted that role. He’s a captain. The kids look up to him and he does everything the right way to lead by example. In class He’s doing what those guys showed him and he’s carrying on the tradition.

“He had good role models.”

Ty Ferguson and Ethan Green from Ross

Now Ferguson is setting that bar. He asked Long to switch to right tackle for the second half and stop Lima Senior’s Anthony Mosley.

“He has the attitude to do what’s best for the team,” Long said. “Communication. The guys he plays with are underclass. The guard next to him is Dom Brown. Adrian Garcia. He’s a role model for kids like Kaden Mayle.

“He’s the next stallion. Ferg is helping bring him in.”

Ferguson has a full-time resource his mentors didn’t have.

“I do everything better [than last season],” he said. “[Offensive line coach] Tom Kiser is a footballing genius and a blessing to Fremont Ross football. He has experience at Ohio State that he brings to us. He helped my passing game a lot to improve.”

Ferguson has allowed 2½ sacks this season.

“In freshman year, I was left on guard duty next to Ethan,” he said. “Every game they came out and it’s lunch time, protect your plate. I didn’t have too heavy a weight on my shoulders. They trust me enough to put me on the blind side of Kaden and Kaden me trust.

“The expectation is more on me. Everyone around me trusts me to play there.

Ross's Ty Ferguson

Ferguson and the other captains spoke with the team on Monday and Tuesday.

“We let the guys know it was the playoffs, win and you keep playing,” he said. “Lose and you go home. We’re not ready to stop playing. All that’s left for Fremont Ross football is to go and shock the world. Win Friday at home and go get the next one.

“One against eight, few people outside the locker room trust us. Last year [Avon] game left a bitter taste. It’s the same situation. They were the big dog in this area. It’s time someone took his place. Why not us ?

“Teams look different. We know the mistakes we made last year. Fremont took a step forward. We know they’re beatable.”

Confidence and talent alone do not win games. They can go a long way when mixed up, and Ross thinks they’ve merged again, with a chance to prove it.

“The Central game did some damage,” Ferguson said. “If we make another stop [against Whitmer]. It does us good to know that we can compete with the best of them.”

Ross's Ty Ferguson.

Ross is averaging 35.7 points per game. He scored 45.8 points per game in the first five games and 25.6 in the last five of the regular season.

Long wants offense to complement defense, and vice versa. If the offense is still dormant or the team is dragging, he wants them to never stop believing that will change in an instant.

A unified team spirit is always fragile, and when disrupted, it’s hard to undo. Ross wants to keep it this time.

“We started well on the offensive line with protection,” Long said. “You come to Findlay and you’re in the gauntlet. We’ve battled through injuries. When Kaden is healthy, you see what you get.”

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Twitter: @MatthewHornNH

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