All in the family
Published 12:05 am Thursday, September 1, 2022
Football helps forge the bond between Caleb David and Justin Ferguson and their fathers Brent and Lawrence, who are also assistant coaches for the Titans
It’s a long walk from the football locker room at West Forsyth to the practice fields. The players have to walk a path across the field in Jerry Peoples Stadium, down a hill and behind the baseball field and soccer stadium to reach their destination.
Sophomore defensive back Justin Ferguson and junior linebacker Caleb David know the consequences that will be imposed if they are late.
“Probably some up-downs and some running,” they both said. “That’s something the coaches don’t mess around with.”
There’s also the matter of what might happen to them when they get home from practice. Or maybe even before that on the ride home.
That’s because Ferguson’s father, Lawrence, is an assistant coach for the Titans. As is Brent David, Caleb’s father.
“I know there would be a firm talking to me when I got home,” Justin Ferguson said with a slight laugh.
The fathers are confident enough in their children to make good decision and be responsible. So are the coaches.
“I think it’s actually easier to get on them,” Lawrence Ferguson said. “As a dad, you want them to be the best at anything they are doing. That goes for school. That goes for out here on the field. You don’t want them to not go out there and give anything less than 100 percent in anything they are doing now or in what they decide they want to do later on in life.”
Lawrence Ferguson, who is in his 10th season as an assistant, coaches running backs on the varsity team and is also the head junior varsity coach this season.
Justin, or “J-Boogie,” is playing both varsity and junior varsity this season.
“At our house, we set goals every year and that was one of his goals,” Lawrence Ferguson said. “Playing on Friday nights was one of his goals this season. As a father, that makes me super proud to see him achieve that goal.”
David is a two-year starter at linebacker, the position his father coaches for the Titans as well as one he excelled at as a college player at Appalachian State.
Caleb David also got to experience playing a season with his older brother Mack last season, also a standout linebacker and running back who will be playing at North Carolina A&T this season.
“Expectations at our house have always been high but I was never forced to do anything I didn’t want to do,” Caleb David said. “I loved watching my brother play and develop as a player. Last year was really special having all three of us together. I learned a lot from both of them. We could challenge each other in practice, at home, in the games. And if I missed an assignment, I would definitely hear about it from both of them. My dad’s voice is pretty loud on the sidelines if I mess up.”
Ferguson’s older brother, Jalen, was a quarterback at West who graduated in 2020 and now plays at Lenoir-Rhyne.
Justin, who was a ball boy for the Titans since the age of 9 before he arrived as a freshman, watched his older brother play for the Titans.
“He helped me the whole way,” Justin Ferguson said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for him. I told him one of my goals was to be on varsity before he was, and I did it. We are always competing with each other because that’s what makes us better.”
Brent David said that thing that has impressed him the most — as a father and as Caleb’s coach — is seeing his leadership ability.
“Caleb has been a vital part of what we’ve done the last two years on defense,” Brent David said. “Even last year as a sophomore, he would help make sure people were in the right spots. He has really stepped up and that’s hard to be vocal at that age, especially to upperclassmen. As a father, I’m very proud of the amount of pride he puts into everything as a player and as a person.”
Then, David added with a laugh, “He even keeps his room clean without me having to say anything to him about it.”
Justin Ferguson has always enjoyed playing in the secondary. He loves to watch Jalen Ramsey, a cornerback for the Los Angeles Rams, play.
He acquired his nickname, however, from his early years playing youth football for the South Fork Panthers and his penchant for dancing after scoring a touchdown.
“I was all over the field back then and I just liked to dance,” Ferguson said.
Those dance moves were not on display in the JV team’s season opening win against A.C. Reynolds after Ferguson intercepted a pass and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown.
Lawrence was quick with a hug and encouraging pat on the back once his son reached the sidelines.
It always felt like David was destined to be a linebacker given his pedigree.
Both players are one-sport athletes at West. Ferguson has dabbled in track and field. David said that he had a lot of fun playing volleyball for Clemmons Middle School.
“County champs in eighth grade,” David said with a broad grin.
Both of their fathers are excited to see where their talents lead their sons.
“Coaching both of my sons has been a lot of fun,” Brent David said. “Being their father is a lot of fun. They make it fun because of the kind of people they are. I also have a daughter who is a junior in college and I am just very blessed with amazing kids.”
“Any parent wants their kids to understand that anything you want in life you can get with hard work,” Ferguson said. “They can achieve anything if they put their minds to it. And seeing them do that is probably my proudest moment as a father and as a coach.”