WAYNE, W.Va. - On the left-hand side of the road entering Wayne southbound from Huntington there is a sign that assuredly states that, "Jesus is Lord."
It could be a statement of faith. It could also be a friendly reminder to a community that is riding an unprecedented wave of football success in its history, led by a quarterback who simply does not know how a season ends without his coronation as a state champion.
After all, the sign is colored in red and black.
Junior Grant Ferguson (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) likened the following the Pioneers (6-0) have cultivated through the course of the past decade-and-a-half to a religious following Wednesday, as the two-time defending Class AA state champions prepared for Friday's game at Herbert Hoover (2-4).
"You got that right. With the community all behind you, you go into games and it's just packed," said Ferguson, who was the Class AA All-State quarterback in 2012 after Wayne cruised to a 14-0 season and a Super Six rout of Keyser.
"The crowd's just roaring when you're running (out of the locker room) between the bleachers, and it's the best feeling whenever that band starts playing. You know then you're going to make your community proud because they're backing you all the way."
The tenants of the faith are simple by design, Ferguson said.
"It's kind of something coach always says. It's that 'W' that's on your helmet means a lot," Ferguson said. "It's the Wayne way. You just give it all you can every play and you listen to your coaches.
"You don't just work during the season, you work during the off-season and you do everything for your teammates and not for yourself. We don't take credit for ourselves or for others. We just take it through Wayne football."
Though his last name might be familiar to Wayne fans and followers of Class AA football alike, Ferguson is not related to former Pioneer quarterback Joey Ferguson, who guided Wayne to its first state title as a sophomore in 2006. In fact, Grant Ferguson's emergence as one of the state's top QBs came somewhat unexpectedly, Wayne Coach Tom Harmon said.
"Last year he didn't have to win games for us, he had to manage them somewhat. We weren't asking too much of him. Then, we kind of saw that he could be a valuable weapon on offense," Harmon said. "By the end of last season that's what we were doing."
Ferguson completed 63-of-118 passes for 1,211 yards, 17 touchdowns and one interception in 2012. He ran 62 times for 516 yards and seven TDs.
Through six games in 2012 he has thrown more frequently - he's 33-of-75 - for 477 yards, five TDs and three INTs as the Pioneer offense continues to adjust after the graduation loss of 2,000-yard rusher Brandon Spurlock. Ferguson is the team's second-leading rusher, having carried 41 times for 371 yards and five scores.