Future Husky brings it home

'34 counter trey'. It just might be the sweetest phrase ever uttered by Ferndale Head Coach Jamie Plenkovich, at least to Jake Locker's ears. Plenkovich wasn't calling Jake's number, however. That play was designed for his teammate, Adam Wilgus. No matter. Locker is a results-oriented fella, and when Wilgus took the opening play of the State 3A championship for paydirt, it was clear the Golden Eagles were going to make amends for 2004.

"We were sitting in the locker room and coach comes in and says the first play is going to be '34 counter trey', and so I looked at Adam and told him I didn't want anything but a touchdown, you're going to take it to the house," Locker told Dawgman.com Friday night, after Ferndale defeated Prosser 47-12. "And he didn't let me down. It was a perfect play to start the game.

"I was nervous. I don't think I've ever been that nervous. It was all building up. But then we came out with that beautiful first play. That calmed everyone down."

But don't think that the Washington-bound Locker didn't have a hand in things. The player that almost single-handedly willed the Golden Eagles to a win over Bellevue last year came up with a balanced touchdown ratio - two on the ground and two through the air - to help his team to victory. His biggest play was a 76-yard romp on a lead keeper late in the first half where Locker broke the Mustangs' backside containment. Once in the clear, he wasn't going to be denied.

"When you've got nothing but green in front of you, you seem to always run just a little bit faster."

On the other sideline stood Kellen Moore. Consider him for right now the 'Jake Locker in training'. Not so much for similar abilities; Kellen is a much more refined passer and student of the game, whereas Locker is an athletic dynamo with a sixth sense for the game. He's 'Jake in training' because, like Jake's junior season, Moore will have a chance to exorcise some demons from Friday next season. Even though he had a season most senior quarterbacks would give their non-throwing arm for - 4,600 yards and 66 touchdowns - he wasn't able to get the statistic that matters most.

A state title.

Locker knows the feeling. "First our focus was the league champioship, then it was one game at a time," he said. "But this was our ultimate goal. We knew we had the team to come in and do this. We came out and played the best game we've played."

And playing against one of the top junior quarterbacks gave Locker just a little more impetus to show that he could bring the Golden Eagles back to the place that had haunted them for the past 364 days and play their 'A' game.

"I took it as a challenge," he said. "It's always great to go against one of the better counterparts from the state. I like to think it helps my level of play. He's a great quarterback, definitely a better passer than I am. He was on all night, I'm just glad to be the one that came out with the victory."

It didn't hurt that, besides the countless friends and family that were in the stands covered in blue and yellow from head to toe, there were a couple of men watching from the stands that were specifically asked by Locker to be there - Washington coaches Tim Lappano and Randy Hart. Like proud surrogate papas, Lappano and Hart waited on the end line while Locker finished up with his media responsibilities.

"That was very important," Locker said of having the coaches there. They will be visiting the Lockers Sunday night, in what will surely be another experience for Jake full of smiles and good times. "It's an experience I'm glad they could share with me." He said he'll most likely take an official visit to Washington in January.

As those looking to ask questions slowly depart, the inevitable query comes up; so what is in Jake Locker's future? Football? Or baseball? "I love this game, and this makes me love the game even more," said Locker. "It's going to be really hard for me to pass up an opportunity to play football. I have a passion for football that I don't have for many things, and I think I was given that for a reason."

Consider Moore one of those players sold. - "He's a legitimate quarterback," he said of Locker. "He's a big-time guy and at U-Dub he's going to do great things."

But then it comes time for Locker to neatly wrap up his feelings, try to encapsulate the whole experience. He does his best. "It's unbelievable," he said. "It's a feeling I've never had before. Words can't explain it."

If you're ever short on words, Jake, just think '34 counter trey'.


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