It wasn’t an easy road, but the Ferris Yellowjackets are heading to the playoffs.
Ferris (6-4, 3-1 in 11-3A) will take on the Princeton Panthers (9-1, 3-1 in 12-3A) at 7 p.m. tonight at Royse City.
“We’re ready. It took us a while to get to where we want to be,” Ferris coach Aaron Emeyabbi said. “We were hopeful that we would reach our preseason goals and we’re glad the defense played great all year for us.”
The defense has been strong all year as it helped the Yellowjackets to a winning record despite being outscored. Ferris allowed 23.3 points a game and only scored 20.1. But a lot of that has to do with injuries to offensive players.
“It’s taken a little longer than we expected to get together on offense. It’s taken them a while to jell, but I think they are on track now,” Emeyabbi said. “We had a knee injury to our quarterback (Keegan Harris), but we’ve had JaVaughn Thurmon come in and complete most of his passes.”
Harris went down in week five, but returned in time to play in the final regular season game. Emeyabbi plans to use both of them as he sees fit in the playoffs.
“Thurmon gives us another look and he can do a lot with his legs,” Emeyabbi said. “We’ll still utilize the other quarterback, but we think the running quarterback gives us a better chance.”
Thurmon only threw for 188 yards in his four games at quarterback, but he did run for 569 yards and five touchdowns in that time. The sophomore will be tested by a Princeton team that allows just 17.8 points per game and scores 40.9.
“They have a good offense, but our defense is pretty disciplined and will fly around and be physical,” Emeyabbi said. “So I like this match up.”
He has another reason to like this pairing because he thinks his team is a little more battle tested than Princeton is.
The Panthers beat just three teams with winning records. Whereas his team played five of them.
“We had a harder road to the playoffs,” Emeyabbi said. “They beat Anna, who beat us, but we gave them 28 points off turnovers. If we hang on to the football, that game is different.”
Anna beat Ferris 37-20 and Princeton beat them 59-28. The two teams also each beat Wills Point. Ferris won 27-26 and Princeton beat them 51-6.
Princeton’s offense is led by junior dual-threat quarterback Jourdan Blake. He has thrown for 1,706 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has rushed for 862 yards on 97 carries and nine touchdowns.
Another threat from the Panthers will be running back CJ Bryant, who has rushed for 823 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Ferris running back Jay Foster leads the team with 791 on 127 carries and seven touchdowns. Four of those scores came in his best game, a 222-yard effort, verus Kemp.
When the Yellowjackets do go to the air, look for big plays from Darius Rouwtt and Niko Garza. The two have combined for 42 grabs and 550 yards.
The defense is led by Gustavo Saucedo, Kolby Luttrell and Derrick Walker. They are the team’s leading tacklers with 96, 103 and 100, respectively.
Emeyabbi is excited to see his team take the field tonight.
“We’re going to go out and fight,” Emeyabbi said. “We’re confident and we’re looking to round two.”