Ferris borrowed a little something old and something new Thursday night which proved the perfect marriage during a 49-6 Greater Spokane League season-opening football victory over North Central at Joe Albi Stadium.
Receiver Aaron Roberts and back Nate Tonani, both three-year veterans, accounted for 214 yards and six touchdowns and first-year quarterback Connor Halliday threw for 170 yards, including three scoring strikes to Roberts, in front of 2,039 fans.
The Saxons’ defense, while not totally to coach Jim Sharkey’s liking, produced two more scores – including Roberts’ third-quarter 69-yard interception return – and held the Indians scoreless until 2 minutes, 22 seconds were left in the game.
“It was a starting point for us – there’s lots to work on,” said Tonani, who jab-stepped left into a hole and burst 51 yards for the second of three first-quarter Ferris TDs. “We’ll celebrate the win for now, but come tomorrow we’ve got to look forward to Gonzaga Prep next week. It’s a big game.”
Tonani added an 11-yard run in the second quarter to end the half and his night’s work with four carries for 88 yards.
Roberts, who finished with four catches for 120 yards, converted early on a fade from Halliday, then capped the first-quarter scoring on a 70-yard scoring strike from the strong-armed junior QB.
“Roberts and Tonani are third-year starters. They’ve won 20 football games the last two years, so they have good expectations,” Sharkey said. “That’s a good place to start.”
Halliday, who transferred from Lewis and Clark late in the football season last year, missed on his first three passes before connecting on back-to-back attempts, including to Roberts for the first score. Their second hookup came on the first play following Jordan Tonani’s late first-quarter interception.
When the starters were given a final possession to start the third quarter, Halliday completed three passes, although one was called back by penalty, before hitting Roberts on an inside screen. He finished the night 7 for 12 and rushed for 33 yards.
“I started slow and was trying to get in a groove,” Halliday said of his first shotgun quarterbacking experience. “Aaron made a nice play and after that it was boom, boom, in the end zone.”
After special teams surrendered a game-opening 41-yard kickoff, the defense proved stingy. NC rushed for just 24 first-half yards and quarterback Justin Materne was 7 for 11 for 47 yards. The Indians were threatening at the Saxons’ 25 before his first pick late in the first half.
His second came in the third quarter, with Roberts racing down the right sideline toward the scoreboard at Albi for his fourth TD. NC was threatening to score midway through the final period, but a fumbled reception was picked up by Brett Ward, who legged it nearly the length of the field.
The Indians got on the scoreboard with Materne’s 8-yard pass to Jared Campasino to cap a 40-yard march.
Materne completed 13 of 21 passes for 128 yards. NC’s Cameron Gump gained 46 of his team-high 53 rushing yards in the second half.
“I was pleased to get out of here with a win, but we’ve got a long ways to go,” Sharkey said. “We lined up quite a bit wrong a lot on defense. (The Indians) were real young up front and our experience up front really kind of took over.”
Next week’s opponent, G-Prep, opens GSL play tonight at East Valley and will pose a more substantial threat.
There are some other interesting games of note on tap. Lewis and Clark will play a rare non-league game, traveling to Coeur d’Alene against Lake City, victorious last week.
Rivals Mead and Mt. Spokane cap the Albi doubleheader that begins with Central Valley against Rogers and its wide-open offense.