Charlie Ferguson might be one of the Peninsula's best running backs college scouts have never heard of.
That's according to Menlo School coach Mark Newton, who believes that his powerful back with breakaway speed has been overlooked by recruiters.
“I don't think they realize how great a player he is, I do not,” Newton said.
It'll be impossible for scouts to ignore him much longer if he keeps going like he has early on in his senior year.
Ferguson rushed for 250 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries to lead the Knights to a 35-14 nonleague victory over Mission of San Francisco in a nonleague game on Friday at Kezar Pavilion.
In the Knights' season-opener against Lincoln of San Francisco the previous week he rushed for 206 yards and scored three touchdowns.
“He showed that he's just an exceptional high school football player that has a bright future playing college ball too,” Newton said.
“He ran 4.5's and one 4.6 in camps this summer. I really think the Ivy Leagues should be all over him, but they haven't really committed yet.”
Menlo (2-0) broke open a 13-8 game, scoring three touchdowns within the span of less than a minute that culminated with Ferguson's 76-yard scoring run on the first play from scrimmage in the second half.
Ferguson scored on a six yard run with 25 seconds left in the first half, capping a 10-play 90-yard drive. Landon Smith scored on a 31-yard interception return on the last play from scrimmage to give Menlo a 28-8 lead going into the intermission.
The Knights had several other scoring opportunities. They failed to score on twice in the red zone in the first half.
“That bummed me out for sure, but I thought our defense played incredibly well and bailed us out a couple of times,” Ferguson said, noting the Knights defense wasn't scored on until midway through the third quarter.
Mission (0-2) was led by running back Joseph Broussard, who rushed for 69 yards on 19 carries.
The Bears trailed 13-0 when Tyrese Johnson scored on an 87-yard kickoff return. A two-point conversion made it a five-point game.
Ferguson said the Knights performance left room for improvement, noting lack of communication affected their pass blocking.
Knights quarterback Hayden Pegley was 6-for-18 passing for 88 yards with one interception.
Ferguson credited the offensive line, however, for his big night.
“The holes were wide open, you could drive a truck through it,” he said. “As a running back it makes my job really easy.”
Getting its running game going against a physical and athletic Mission team was one of Menlo's most notable accomplishments.
“We established the downhill and outside running game, both aspects of it, against a pretty good front with some safeties that can really fly up and make plays,” Newton said.
“(Mission) was well coached and they did a good job of sending some pressure. They get off the ball very quickly and they maintain gap integrity pretty well.”
In Millbrae, Gunn fell to host Mills, 40-7, on Friday in a nonleague football game and despite the lop-sided score, felt it could have won.
“This was a game I think everybody thought we should have won,” said Gunn's Andrew Maltz. “The talent was there and everything we needed was ready, but we just couldn’t put the pieces together. I know we should have won this game, but tonight was just not the night.”
Gunn’s offense ran like clockwork during the opening minutes. After a 23 yard return from junior wide receiver DJ Barnes, senior running back Etienne Daadi ran for 36 yards. He finished with 125 yards on 10 carries. Quarterback Edmond Wu completed the drive with a scoring toss to Barnes.
“The opportunities were there,” said Barnes. “Etienne made some huge plays for us. We just couldn’t convert. ”
The Titans managed to get into the red zone on multiple occasions, but failed to capitalize on the opportunities as Mills’ tight coverage led to multiple interceptions.
“After halftime we lost the momentum from the first half from injuries, which led us downwards into the final quarter,” said Daadi. “We had good plays, but also we had really bad ones that came down to not executing because we lost focus.”
The Titans trailed 21-7 at the end of the third quarter, still within reach. Mills put it away with a big fourth quarter.
“As a team, the score speaks for itself,” said Maltz. “I’m not at all deterred from this game, but I know this needs to be a wake-up call for everybody on the team.”
Gunn’s next game will be Saturday against Harbor in Santa Cruz.
“I’m confident in our team, our coaches and our program,” said Barnes. “We’ll keep practicing and get better. We’ll win.”
Palo Alto dropped a 42-14 decision to host San Benito, though Jackson Chryst and Paul Jackson III threw touchdown passes.
In 8-man football, Pinewood opened the season with a 76-0 victory over Crystal Springs Uplands, a first-year program.
Jackson Haun and Alex Dagman were responsible for most of the touchdowns, and were part of a defense that allowed the Gryphons past Pinewood's 40-yard line twice in the game.
Quarterback Jaeden Bailey managed the game well, keeping the ball on the ground.