By Nathan Pilling
SPRINGFIELD – After going 1-9 last season, the Greenon Knights are looking to improve their record and build positive momentum for the future, and they’re looking to do so under the guidance of first-year head coach Kevin Ferguson.
While this is his first year taking on the head coaching mantle, he’s been with the program as an assistant coach for two years, so he knows the system he’ll be running. He’ll be the team’s third head coach in as many years.
When he talks about his team, he regularly uses the phrase “fly around” when describing what he’s looking for his players to do.
According to Ferguson, the team has worked this offseason to get more of a balanced attack. They’ll still run their triple option run offense, but they’ve been working to develop a passing game that was essentially non-existent in last year’s campaign.
“We really didn’t have a passing game last year,” Ferguson said. “We solely depended on the run and that really hurt us. We want to be more of a balanced attack this year.”
Last season Greenon racked up 1,424 rushing yards, but just 205 through the air.
“Offensively our strength’s going to be running the ball again this year, running the triple,” Ferguson said. “With our new passing game this year hopefully we’ll be able to open up the run a little bit more.”
The team returns its leading rusher from last season, senior fullback Jameson Lawrence, who Ferguson said worked hard in the weight room this offseason, gaining a lot of strength in his lower body.
“We’re looking for him to have a breakout year,” Ferguson said. “I’d love for him to get right around the 1,000-yard mark this year.”
The Knights will return the same defensive scheme they ran last year: a 5-2 slant. Ferguson said the defense was not where he wanted it to be yet, but he’s just looking for improvement week to week.
“We just gotta look to fly around, and we gotta look to improve,” Ferguson said. “Defensively, we’re not going to over-complicate things with our scheme. We’re going to keep it basic. I want to look for guys who’s motors never stop, who get to the ball, who give me 100 percent.”
The Knights return a bright spot from last year’s team, Ty Restau, who Ferguson called the team’s best corner.
“Really nice to have him in pass coverage, plus he’s not afraid to get his nose dirty, come up stop the run,” Ferguson said.
Nick Robertson will take punting duties this season for the Knights.
“There were a couple games last year where he changed the game of field position which really helped us out,” Ferguson said.
Robertson will also likely take care of kickoff duties as well.
Ty Restau will take care of field goal and extra point kicking. Restau kicked last year as well.
Sept. 5 vs. London – “That’s going to be a huge measuring stick,” Ferguson said. He recalled playing at London last season, losing 6-0.
“That’s a game we want to try to come out on the other side on,” he said.
He also recalled games against Benjamin Logan, Graham and Northwestern, where the Knights “were in it to the end,” but came out a little bit short. He’s targeting those games for the Knights to come out on the other side this season.
The Greenon Knights are looking for progress this season. Ferguson isn’t expecting to win a conference championship his first season.
“So 1-9 last year, we’re looking to you know improve that mark,” Ferguson said. “My realistic expectation 4-6, 5-5. If we can come out with that record, I’ll be very, very pleased.”