Long after Ferndale rallied from a 21-point deficit to score 29 consecutive points and hand Fairfax a 29-21 defeat on Friday night in the CIF Division 7-AA state championship bowl game at El Camino College, sophomore quarterback Tanner Pidgeon revealed the secret to the Wildcats’ conditioning and total domination of the second half.
The team runs around Ferndale’s half-mile thoroughbred race track on Mondays near the high school.
“Two laps,” he said. “I think that helped.”
Pidgeon rushed for 162 yards and three touchdowns while running a veer attack that left Fairfax (10-5) exhausted by the end of the game. It was Ferndale’s first state title in football.
It was a startling change after the Lions opened a 21-0 lead in the second quarter. Quarterback Ivan Levant completed nine of his first 10 passes for 264 yards, including touchdown throws of eight yards to Darvens Joseph and 75 yards to Sebastian Ikolo.
Levant finished 14-of-27 passing for 283 yards, with only 19 yards coming in the second half. Ikolo caught six passes for 191 yards.
Fairfax collapsed in the third quarter after a 21-8 halftime lead. The Wildcats took a 21-20 lead aided by a lost Fairfax fumble on a kickoff, scoring on two possessions of the third quarter.
“We just pulled our heads out of our butts and finally realized we could win this,” said sophomore running back Prescott Langer, who scored the go-ahead touchdown and rushed for 98 yards.
Ferndale, located 260 miles north of San Francisco along the north coast of California, had 24 players, some of whom like Langer compete in rodeo competitions. The basketball team had to cancel games because it’s made up of football players. Pidgeon is a three-sport athlete. The team left Wednesday and took more than 12 hours on a bus to arrive, stopping to practice twice before arriving Thursday evening.
“It’s cool. I love it,” Langer said of the trip.
Ferndale’s discipline was shown throughout. The team was called for two penalties. Fairfax picked up 12 penalities for nearly 100 yards.
“It hurts, but it’s better to be with someone,” Fairfax coach Juan Solorio told his team. “You’re not alone. You’re not alone. You’re not alone. We’re still City champions.”