WHEELING, W.Va. -- Wayne did not lose much from its 2011 Class AA state championship team.
A total of five seniors were on that club, which routed previously unbeaten Point Pleasant in last year's Super Six at Wheeling Island Stadium.
There is still a noteworthy change between the 2011 Pioneers and the currently unbeaten and top-seeded version.
"Throwing the football, I think, is something that everybody would like to do, including teams that are really good running the football," Wayne Coach Tommy Harmon said. "But it takes a lot of things to pull off a prolific passing attack."
Enter Wayne sophomore Grant Ferguson. A year ago, Pioneers senior starter Tyler Adkins threw for less than 700 yards in 14 games. This season, Ferguson (6-foot-2, 171 pounds) stepped into his new role as starter and has completed 60 of 113 passes for 1,168 yards, 15 touchdowns and just one interception.
It's a departure for Wayne, which still leans heavily on its ability to move the football via the running game. Senior running back Brandon Spurlock is one of the state's leading rushers, with 1,859 yards and 25 touchdowns on 127 carries.
Harmon said he hopes to continue the mix of run and pass tonight when the Pioneers (13-0), seeking their third state championship, face No. 2 seed Keyser (12-1) at 7:30 p.m. at Wheeling Island Stadium.
"I think when you've got kids who can pass protect a little bit, and you've got more than one who can catch and a signal-caller who can handle it and put the ball where it needs to be; if you've got those three factors, why not do it," Harmon said.
"We've been pretty fortunate this year in that we're decent in all three of those areas."
Ferguson can run the ball as well. He's carried 53 times for 455 yards and seven scores.
"It's not like we're able to do anything exclusively," Harmon said. "With Grant being a sophomore, he's a very calm kid.
"With throwing the ball, it's something that you want to be able to do when you want to do it, and not when you need to do it."
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