Coach's Corner

I'll try to temper this enthusiasm as much as I possibly can, but the fact of the matter is, Jake Locker is the real deal! I got to do the radio broadcast for Ferndale's victory over Kennedy High School in the AAA State Semi-Finals held in the wooden dome of Tacoma.

Jake Locker and half of his extended family put on quite a show and with it took an important step towards replacing Bellevue as the best 3A football team in the state of Washington.

That last word, Washington, is what excited me the most. Locker has given his word to the Huskies that he will be taking his show south on I-5 and play the next four years for the Dawgs. He will be bringing half the town of Ferndale with him because he is nothing short of a folk hero for that tiny little community just north of Bellingham. He signed autographs and answered media questions for a full hour after his team dismantled the Kennedy Lancers of Seattle, 41-13 Friday night in Tacoma.

He is one of the very best quarterbacks to come out of this state, ever! When I first started working for the Huskies we had just signed Chris Chandler out of Everett and I had gotten to see him play in high school. Locker immediately reminded me of Chris except he is a much better runner. Fact is, he is as good as runner as Marques Tuiasosopo and as tough as Billy Joe Hobert. Those were the three quarterbacks who first came to mind although I did see him throw a 65-yard pass that reminded me of Cary Conklin or Drew Bledsoe or Damon or Brock Huard. He has a rifle of an arm but it is his toughness and running ability that made him stand out.

Jake Locker is obviously the cornerstone around which Tyrone Willingham will build his program. He is poised beyond his years and is as athletic as any of the above-mentioned quarterbacks who all went on to the NFL level. He ran for over 200 yards and directed his team on both sides of the ball. When I was the recruiting coordinator at Washington, that was always an important "character" criterion for me.

I'd always ask, "Does the quarterback play defense for his team?" In his case, not only does he start at free safety, but also he hits with the best of them. Jake Locker is a contact football player. He obviously loves the sport of football and is an obvious leader and playmaker. On almost every carry of the football he literally tried to run over the last defender in an effort to get that extra yard. He was a competitor on both sides of the ball. He is a hitter, he is tough, and he might be faster than any of the quarterbacks I mentioned.

This is not to say that Ferndale is a one-man team. They are not! Coach Jamie Plenkovich and his staff have done a wonderful job of preparing their team for a return trip to the state championship. Besides Locker, at 6-3 and 210, their backfield also includes fullback, Antoine Dudley, at 6-1 and 205, and running back Adam Wilgus, at 6-2 and 215. They are all loads to bring down and Locker's cousin, Brady Locker, is a nifty wingback who also is an excellent defensive back. The way Wilgus hits and Dudley runs, I would be surprised if either or both don't receive interest from colleges as well.

Ferndale, like so many other teams in this state, runs the wing-T, and Locker is an excellent ball faker as well as being their primary offensive weapon. It was difficult to assess his passing ability as they simply don't throw that much, but when they did, he definitely put the ball on the money and with great velocity. He has the obvious arm strength to be a big time passer, but it is his toughness that is his most important characteristic.

For those of you that worry about the money of major league baseball, consider this. This kid obviously loves the sport of football and, by going to college, can actually do both. He can't do that if he signs baseball. I have already talked to Husky baseball and they have visions of him being a bull-pen pitcher for them and hopefully being their "closer". (Washington has a proven record of allowing football players to do both sports as James Clifford did.) Mark my words, the way this kid plays football, there is going to be a lot more money for him in football by the time he graduates.

I remember saying the same thing about a high school senior I saw at Evergreen High School in 1970 and Jack Thompson proved me right. So did Chandler, Conklin, Hobert, Brunnel, the Huards, and Marques Tuiasosopo and Cody Pickett. Believe me this kid is the real deal and his development at Washington will run concurrently with the development of a championship team.

What Husky fans must realize is that he is just another great prospect and not the "answer" or the "savior". He is already a wonderful kid who has a great passion for the sport of football. You can see it by the way he plays the game. He has chosen to play close to home so that his family and friends and community can be part of his career. He is the real deal. He will prove to be the cornerstone around which Tyrone Willingham will build the foundation for the resurgence of Husky Football. For right now, however, he has one more very important game to play to permanently cement his name along with all the other great quarterbacks this state has produced and that also includes Doug Peterson, who also played at Ferndale High School before also going on to the NFL as well.
Here is highlight footage of Jake Locker (quarterback in white) in this past weekend's Class 3A semifinal win against Kennedy.

Note: A big thank you to Scott Eklund for help with the video footage. Top Stories