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By Dan Brood

Some opportunities come out of the blue. 

Some opportunities are too good to pass up. 

And, sometimes, you just have to grab that opportunity and run with it. 

That’s just what Dominic Ferraro is doing — and he’s running with it in an up-tempo attack.

Ferraro, who served as the offensive coordinator of some high-powered offensive powerhouses in the area before taking the head coaching post at Forest Grove High School before the 2021 season, just couldn’t let the opportunity to be the head football coach at Tualatin High School pass him by.

“It just kind of came out of left field. It was just hard to pass it up,” said Ferraro, who was hired to coach the Timberwolves in April. “It was hard not to take a shot at it, to throw my name in the hat. I wasn’t really planning on leaving Forest Grove. It wasn’t on my radar. But the Three Rivers is a tough league. It’s like the SEC of Oregon football. It’s a heavyweight fight every Friday night. Just being a part of that is kind of hard to pass up.”

Dominic Ferraro photo Dan Brood 2

For Ferraro, 45, who graduated from Jesuit High School in 1995 before playing at the College of the Redwoods as a kicker and punter, the move was his latest step up the coaching ladder.

“I started coaching at Sunset back in (20)06. I just missed the game,” Ferraro said. “I also wanted to give back to the community, and I missed being around teams, so I reached out to a couple of local schools, and Sunset seemed like a really good fit. That’s how it got started.”

At Sunset, Ferraro coached under Apollos head coach Mike Mitchell.

“At first I was coaching JV receivers, and it seemed like every year I got a little bit more and more,” Ferraro said. “Then, in my third year there, he made me the JV head coach. It just kind of went from there.” 

And from there, it was over to another Metro League school.

“After Mike left Sunset, after the ’09 season, I went over to Westview, because I knew a few people over there,” Ferraro said. “I spent five years over there. A lot of my coaching philosophies today were developed there, whether it’s how you think about offensive football or how you coach kids. Greg Fisher was the head coach, and he’s one of my best friends. Not only is Greg an excellent coach, but he’s a great person.”

Ferraro moved on to coach at Grant, serving as the Generals’ offensive coordinator in the 2015 season. The following year, it was back to Sunset.

“A spot opened up on Damien’s (Merrick) staff. I just went to go coach receivers,” Ferraro said. “(Longtime Sunset coach) Mike (Sanderson) and I have been connected at the hip for the last 10 years or so. Mike kind of helped me get back on the Sunset staff. After being there for about two months, (Sunset offensive coordinator and former Beaverton head coach) Faustin (Riley) told Damien, ‘I think I’m going to hang it up,’ so Damien sent me a text message, asking me to come by. I was thinking, ‘Dang it! I’ve only been on staff for like a month, and I’m already in trouble.’ But he asked me to coordinate (the offense), so I spent five years there.”

At Sunset, Ferraro had his “Ricky Bobby” offensive attack — named after the Will Ferrell character in the movie “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” — running in high gear.

Ferraro, though, is quick to point out that he didn’t originate the offense — which is based on playing at a fast tempo — or even the name of it.

“The Ricky Bobby came from a friend of mine named Ken Fasnacht,” Ferraro said. “Ken was the offensive coordinator down at Southern Oregon University. We went down there for a few years to their college camps. He really coined the phrase. That was their offense’s name. And I was like, ‘We’re stealing this. We’re going to make it our own.’ The idea was that Ricky Bobby wanted to go fast, and we want to go fast.”

Ferraro’s offenses certainly have gone fast — and scored big.

The 2014 Westview team averaged 52.6 points per game, tallying 81 points in one contest.

“The year at Westview where we kind of exploded, we had a lot of kids, we had a lot of receiver types,” Ferraro explained. “We were playing a 3-4 defense. Our two D-ends were our tight ends, so they could play full-time on defense and rest themselves on offense. Those kids knew the offense inside and out.” 

In the shortened 2021 spring season, Sunset went 6-0 and averaged 40.8 points per game.

“You have to be in shape. That’s the first thing,” Ferraro said of the key to the Ricky Bobby offensive attack. “The second thing is that you have to have some depth. You have to be able to rest guys in certain spots. You have to have your best 11 guys on defense. However they fit on offense, you have to get them breaks. In recent years, we’ve kind of explored slowing things down a bit. We still don’t huddle; we just hold the call and let guys catch their breath. I kind of reckon it to a yo-yo — sometimes it’s down, sometimes it’s up.”

Ferraro took the next step in his coaching career before the 2021 fall season, when he became the head coach at Forest Grove.

“After the COVID season, the Forest Grove job came open. I was like, ‘If I’m going to get one of these things, it’s going to be now,’” Ferraro said. “I went through the process, and I really felt like I was going to stay there and help turn the program around. I was really pleased with some of the things we had done. The coaching staff was great. They were all bought in and all delivering the same message to the kids.”

After going 0-6 in the 2021 spring season, Ferraro’s Vikings went 4-5 in the fall of 2021, scoring an average of 20.8 points per game — up from 10.3 the spring before.

“We kind of walked in and watched film of them, and the first thing we said was, ‘You have to play with effort. We could see it on film — you guys were not playing hard,’” Ferraro said. “So, we kind of demanded that from them. And the kids responded.”

Ferraro was all set to keep building the program at Forest Grove when the Tualatin head coaching position opened after Dan Lever resigned from the post to take the head coaching spot at Silverton High School

Once again, it was an opportunity Ferraro said he couldn’t pass up. As opposed to Forest Grove, Tualatin isn’t a rebuilding project, as Lever had a 39-15 record in five seasons with the Timberwolves, including 12-2 last season while guiding Tualatin to the 2021 Class 6A state championship game.

So far, Ferraro says, the transition has gone smoothly, with Lever being one of the biggest reasons for that.

“It’s been great. I’ve known Dan for four or five years, and he’s such a great guy,” Ferraro said. “He and I have had a lot of conversations over the past few months. It’s been, ‘Hey, what did you do here? Can you tell me about this?’ And he’s just been great. He’s not an ego guy, and he’s willing to share how he did stuff. And I’ve got my own ideas of how to do things. But there are a lot of things that will stay similar — there’s no reason to go in and blow up a program like this. The ship is going in the right direction.”

Dominic Ferraro photo Dan Brood 3

It also helps, Ferraro said, that the Tualatin assistant coaches from last year’s title-game squad wanted to remain part of the program. 

“Everybody wanted to stay. (Tualatin athletic director) Ted (Rose) let me know that early on, and that’s exciting, the fact that those guys wanted to stay on staff, and they’ve been great,” Ferraro said. “I actually texted my wife, probably on Day 2, and I was like, ‘Well, we’re doing individuals (drills) right now, and I’m just kind of standing here, watching all the offensive coaches do their thing.’

“I’m really excited. They’re a good staff. They’re knowledgeable. The thing I really like is that they’re willing to jump in and help — ‘What do you need? I’ll take care of it!’ Everyone is rowing, and that’s amazing to work with.”

And, yes, the Timberwolves will feature the Ricky Bobby offensive attack this fall.

“We’re going to do it,” Ferraro said. “We’ve been working on … all of our signals and all of our calls, things like that. Trying to get lined up fast. We joke that we only have two tempos: We play fast and we play faster. And the ‘faster’ are kind of one-word calls that we’ll use. So, we’ve worked on that, trying to snap those ones really quick.

“The kids are getting used to it. They’re doing a good job. They’ve got a lot of questions, and they’re good questions. I think they’re excited about it.”

While Tualatin graduated some of its top offensive players from last season — including quarterback Jackson Jones, running back Malik Ross and receivers Cole Prusia, Peter Burke and Kellen Hale — the Timberwolves appear to have plenty of key offensive players on the field this year.

That group likely will be led by senior dual-threat quarterback Jack Wagner.

“The only way I can describe him is that he’s just a stud,” Ferraro said of Wagner. “He’s such a nice kid to start with. He’s smart. He’s tough and he’s just one heck of a quarterback. I think he’s going to surprise some people this year. I know Dan did a really good job of kind of managing the two quarterbacks last year, and I think Jack is really going to surprise people this year.”

Jack Wagner Dominic Ferraro photo Dan Brood

The Timberwolves seem to have plenty of other offensive weapons besides Wagner. There are running backs Luke Ash (a transfer from Clackamas) and Kevin Interian, receivers A.J. Noland and Jayden Fortier, tight ends Richie Anderson and Will Wilson and lineman Drew Corcoran, just to name a few.

“We’ve got some guys who can play. It’s great,” Ferraro said. “The kids are great. The coaching staff is awesome. The support network is great. Everything is kind of in place. We’ve got some talented kids. Will we be like last year? I don’t know. Only time will tell. We’ve got the potential. We just have to put the pieces together.”

Tualatin is scheduled to open the 2022 season at home Sept. 2 against Summit.

“They’re going to be tough,” Ferraro said. “We’ll have our hands full.” 

So, what needs to happen for the Timberwolves between now and Sept. 2 to be ready for the opener — as well as for the gauntlet that is the Three Rivers League?

“The biggest thing for me (is) we obviously have to come together as a team,” Ferraro said. “There are a lot of guys on that group that played last year and had some significant impact. But every year is a new year. I think the other thing we’re going to have to do — we’ll come to a point where you can celebrate past successes, but you can’t ride on the coattails of last year’s team anymore. This is your team, this is your legacy, and you have to create it. And they’ve been great so far.

“I’m excited. It’s going to be a challenge, but what better way to do it? It’s going to be a tough league, and we’re going to have a tough schedule, but this is a good group of kids and they’re up for it.”