For the last eight years, West Marshall's football team has fostered a familiar sight - a Ferch in the backfield.
Over that span Drake, Dalton and Duncan Ferch have each taken their turn as the Trojans' tailback, amassing more than 14,000 rushing yards and over 245 total touchdowns.
And now the brothers share one more honor together - selection as the Times-Republican All-Area Football Player of the Year. Following the lead of Drake - the 2009 honoree - and Dalton, the 2010 pick and 2011 co-selection, Duncan capped the Ferch fraternity with a 2013 season deserving of this year's honor.
T-R FILE PHOTO
The Northern Iowa commit rushed for 2,010 yards and 25 touchdowns en route to his second straight Iowa Newspaper Association all-state first-team selection.
"I knew it was going to be tough to follow (them)," said Duncan of taking over the position preceded by Drake (2006-09) and Dalton (2008-11).
"They were really good and I grew up watching them all my life," said Duncan.
2013 Times-Republican All-Area Football Team
Player of the Year - Duncan Ferch, West Marshall
Coach of the Year - John Olson, Gladbrook-Reinbeck
Quarterback - Dylan Diveney, sr., Marshalltown; Taylor Hill, sr., Colo-NESCO; Conner Ubben, sr., BCLUW.
Running Back - Devin Chesler, sr., West Marshall; Chase Clark, sr., Gladbrook-Reinbeck; Nick Long, so., East Marshall.
Wide Receiver - Bryce Newcomb, jr., GMG; Taylor Sams, sr., BCLUW; Austin Sowers, sr., Marshalltown.
Tight End - Austin Heitland, sr., AGWSR.
Offensive Line - Trevor Bakker, sr., AGWSR; Nolan Emley, sr., BCLUW; Christian Guido, sr., Marshalltown; Brady Hook, sr., Grundy Center; Pete Meyers, sr., Gladbrook-Reinbeck; Derek Schipper, sr., AGWSR.
Defensive Line - Dale Hilleman, jr., West Marshall; Zach Pierce, jr., Gladbrook-Reinbeck; Ian Slagle, jr., South Tama; Blair Van Staalduine, jr., Marshalltown.
Linebacker - Blake Cooper, jr., BCLUW; Bryce Ehlers, jr.; Gladbrook-Reinbeck; Jared Johnson, so., West Marshall; Derek Mann, sr., Marshalltown; Clay Meinders, jr., AGWSR.
Defensive Back - Sully Hofmeister, jr., AGWSR; Austin Lovin, sr., Marshalltown; Elijah Streeter, sr.; West Marshall.
Utility - Eric Mulder, jr., South Hardin; Brock Rohler, jr., Grundy Center.
Kick Returner - Terrell Grant, so., Meskwaki; Dylan Kalinay, sr., South Tama.
Kicker - Austin Vaughn, sr., GMG.
Punter - Jordan Clapp, sr., Grundy Center.
Coincidentally, Duncan's running style mirrors components from both of his older brothers, while still distinguishing itself as unique.
"He's a little bit of a combination of the two," said West Marshall coach Ken Winkler. "A little bit of Drake's power and a little bit of Dalton's elusiveness, but he has more size than either one of them."
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound West Marshall senior also had 54 tackles and a team-high five interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) from the safety position, while also bringing back a kickoff for a score en route to Class 2A District 7 Special Teams MVP honors.
Also a two-time Class 2A District 7 Offensive MVP, Ferch recovered three fumbles and returned one to the end zone - while not getting caught up in trying to match the careers of his brothers.
"He handled following his two brothers very well," said Winkler. "He just stepped in and was his own person. He competed hard and made his own mark."
One of those marks was the single-season school rushing record Duncan established in 2012 by racking up 2,264 yards along with 33 touchdowns.
Though his versatility was evident all over the field.
Against Roland-Story, Ferch complemented his 168 rushing yards and two touchdowns, with a couple interceptions returned for scores. The future Panther demonstrated his full array of skills in a playoff win over Clarinda in which he rushed for 280 yards and five touchdowns, completed 4-of-5 passes for 101 yards, and came up with both an interception and fumble recovery.
Starting his career at tight end and defensive end before moving to tailback and safety in his last two seasons, Ferch fielded offers from seven different FCS programs but ultimately determined UNI was the best fit. The opportunity to continue his career at running back played a major role in the decision along with Cedar Falls being "pretty close to home."
"I was thinking defense or offense, it didn't matter, but as the season went by I wanted to stick to running back because I like it more than the other positions," said Ferch, who committed to the Panthers in November. Ferch will return to the UNI-Dome where he teamed with Dalton in the Trojans' run to the 2011 state semifinals.
While the youngest Ferch is forging a different path from his brothers - both at Iowa State - at the next level, their common bond of playing in the West Marshall backfield remains, along with the occasional friendly boast on who's the best.
"We joke around about stuff like who is better but we know we all did pretty well, we're happy for each other" said Ferch, who credited Drake for his weight-room regimen and Dalton for giving him some pointers on eluding tacklers.
As Duncan's stellar senior season marks the end of the Ferch era in State Center, Winkler is choosing to focus on all the numerous highlights of the last eight years, rather than the name that will be missing in the backfield.
"Obviously we'd love to have eight more years of Ferch boys, but it's been a very good eight years," said Winkler. "Not only have we won a lot of games and had a lot of success coming through our program; they've all been good kids who have been very coachable from a very good family."
Past T-R All-Area Players of the Year
2012 - Blake Gimbel, QB, Marshalltown
2011 - Blake Gimbel, QB, Marshalltown & Dalton Ferch, RB, West Marshall
2010 - Dalton Ferch, RB, West Marshall
2009 - Jarred Carlson, WR, Marshalltown
2008 - Drake Ferch, RB, West Marshall
2007 - Tyler Peschong, QB, Marshalltown
2006 - Tyler Rabey, RB, West Marshall
2005 - Alex Mayorov, RB, GMG
2004 - Andrew Peschong, QB, Marshalltown