Watch the Ferris football team play and two things become strikingly apparent.
Make that two numbers. More specifically, the numbers 56 and 74.
While certainly a handful of skill players stand out at any moment for the Saxons, 56 and 74 are frequently in the middle of things. For good reason. Dillon Beschel (56) and Russell Stinson (74) rarely come off the field.
Beschel, a left tackle, has been a three-year starter on offense and a two-year starter at right defensive end. Stinson, the Saxons’ center and defensive tackle, has been a two-year starter on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
They’ve had big impacts both ways, but they enjoy playing defense the most.
“They’ve been big-play guys for us on defense,” Ferris coach Jim Sharkey said.
Stinson, for example, had a key sack with a minute to play in the Saxons’ 13-7 win over Chiawana last Saturday in the state quarterfinals.
A week earlier, Beschel had a sack and forced fumble that Drew Sharkey scooped up and returned for a touchdown against Richland.
Those are just two examples of several plays they’ve made on a defensive front that has been stout all season.
And when the Saxons need a couple of yards for a first down, there’s no secret what Ferris’ tendency has been.
“He’s a dominant run blocker,” Sharkey said of Beschel. “Defensively he’s always been a solid player, but the last half of the year he’s been our main pressure guy. His best game on both sides of the ball came against Chiawana. He had such high energy.”
The spoken motto at Ferris is play hard and play fast. That’s not only expected of the skill players, but also the ones who man the trenches.
“Russ has also been real solid on both sides,” Sharkey said. “He’s another kid with a great motor. He’s just well conditioned and has a lot of toughness. A lot of that comes from wrestling.”
Beschel stands 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds and is being recruited. On Monday, Air Force Academy offered a scholarship.
Stinson is shorter but packs a wallop at 5-9, 200. He’ll be down to about 189 for wrestling and is considering cutting to 171 where he placed seventh at state last year. He also placed seventh at state the year before at 189.
Beschel, who has a 3.8 grade-point average, is also attracting interest from Ivy League schools and the University of Chicago.
“I’d love to play defensive end in college, but I know I don’t have the speed to play Division I on defense. I’ll end up on the offensive line.”
Beschel is making the most out of his final season, especially the playoffs. He injured a knee in the play-in game at Wenatchee last year and missed the Saxons’ final four games.
“I felt so helpless on the sideline last year,” Beschel said. “I’m just very, very grateful for the opportunity and success we’ve had. I’m just hoping we make it two more weeks.”
Beschel will make his 36th start Saturday when the third-ranked Saxons (12-0) face Bellarmine Prep (11-1) of Tacoma at Albi Stadium. Kickoff is at 4.
Ferris is in the semifinals for a fourth straight year and looking to advance to the final for a second straight season.
Beschel praises the Saxons’ linebackers and secondary for allowing the linemen to be as dominant as they’ve been at times.
“It’s really a credit to them,” Beschel said. “It makes our job easier and has allowed us to do more stuff.”
Wrestling has always been Stinson’s first love. His goal is much loftier this year.
“I’d love to win a state title,” said Stinson, who has a 3.4 GPA.
First, though, he wants to help the football team complete its mission. Beschel agrees.
“Skyline was the juggernaut last year,” Beschel said. “We want to get back. We kind of had the deer-caught-in-the-headlights thing last year. We’ve been there and know we can make it back. We want to shoot for something higher.”
Standing in the way is Bellarmine Prep, which rallied from a 21-0 deficit to Bothell last week to win 28-21.
“They’re a very capable team,” Beschel said. “It should be a pretty good game.”
If Ferris wins, it’s a good bet that the handprints of Beschel and Stinson will be evident.
After all, that’s been the pattern for 12 games.