Following a 9-1 season that ended at the Ralph with a tough loss to Sweet Home, Williamsville South is back in business today on the first day of preseason work. The Billies are thankful that while they lost a big chunk of last year’s roster, senior quarterback Trent Ferguson is back for another season in the horned helmet.
After transferring from Sweet Home High School, Ferguson – whose frame and skill conjure comparisons to Cam Newton – led Williamsville South in 2011 with his arm and legs. The Sweet Home athletes, his former classmates, constantly remind him of their 28-14 victory.
“I hang out with those guys every weekend and all they do is talk about it,” Ferguson said. “That's definitely motivation.”
It was the Panthers’ fifth straight Section VI Class A championship and second straight win in the championship game over Williamsville South.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound quarterback is aiming to stop the streak at five. While Sweet Home lost its standout quarterback (Jordan Johnson, who now plays for the University at Buffalo), Ferguson knows his team lost a ton of talent, too (among the list of notable players are All-WNYer T.J. Scamurra and Cody Stumpf). Ferguson’s team faces a tall task in league play.
"We're definitely not in the best shape that we could be, but we're getting better,” he said. “We've got a lot of good athletes, got a lot of talent. We're young but I think we'll be able to get it done this year.
“We have players that, if they touch the ball, they can score from anywhere on the field. I think we'll be very explosive.”
South head coach Kraig Kurzanski has faith in his squad.
“We talk about winning our league, winning sectionals and winning the state championship,” Kurzanski said. “Those are our goals at all times.
“I think we have some good football players. They're unknown commodities, but I think our guys can really play.”
The Billies acquired a huge talent this offseason: wide receiver Shaquille Nettles, who transferred from South Park. Nettles gives Ferguson a major weapon.
“He's a fantastic athlete,” Ferguson said. “You throw the ball anywhere in his range and he's going to come down with it.”
It’s possible that Nettles could get Ferguson even better stats this year, which is hard to comprehend because the QB would routinely put up four touchdowns in a game.
“Trent I believe is a Division I quarterback,” said Kurzanski, who saw Will South’s previous quarterback (the state record holder for most touchdown passes, Joe Licata) go on to play at UB (where the redshirt freshman is in a two-man quarterback battle). “I wish people would get here. He's a great leader, great character kid. Does great in school and people like to follow him.”
Will South will get back on the gridiron at home for its first game Aug. 31 against Bishop Timon St. Jude before going on the road for three weeks.
--- Aaron Mansfield