CWU FB Practice

Central Washington University football players run drills during practice Tuesday in Ellensburg, Wash.

If last week wasn’t tough enough facing a Division I FCS opponent, it’s hard to say if Week 2’s matchup gets any easier for Central Washington University.

No. 2 Ferris State (Michigan) will make its longest trip ever in program history as it will travel to Ellensburg for a Division II Showcase National Game of the Week. The matchup will be televised on ESPN3 online at ESPN.com.

Ferris State was the 2018 National Championship runner-up after falling in a shootout with Valdosta State, 49-47. Ferris State finished 2018 with a 15-1 mark.

It returns 18 starters, most notably last season’s Harlon Hill Trophy winner, dual-threat quarterback Jayru Campbell. He led the nation with 49 touchdowns (27 in the air, 21 on the ground), passed for 2,931 yards and ran for 1,460 yards. He only threw six interceptions.

But the 6-foot-5 senior’s game status is in question. He had surgery on his elbow (non-throwing) in the offseason and missed the first week of fall practices, but since has been medically cleared to play.

But Ferris State opted to use backup Travis Russell in its 24-23 victory over Findlay on Sept. 5. Russell threw for 228 yards and two scores while dealing with a broken rib that he endured in the first quarter. His status is in question, too, according to the Torch, the university’s student newspaper.

“I would hope that he (Campbell) would play next week,” Ferris State head coach Tony Annese said in a press conference after the win. “I already said that Travis would start the first two games, but that doesn’t mean Jayru won’t play.”

And in an interview posted by Ferris State Athletics Wednesday, Annese updated Campbell’s status.

“He’s ready to take hits, for sure,” Annese said. “He’s very fit, his elbow is really good.”

CWU head coach Chris Fisk is preparing as if Campbell will take the field.

“Yeah, I never had any doubt from the time I heard this summer that he might be out, that he would be the starter Week 2 in Ellensburg,” Fisk said. “He’s the Harlon Hill Trophy winner, and he’s the best quarterback in the country. And I have no doubt in my mind all summer long that we will see him here in Ellensburg.

“ … We’ll see who they roll out, but right now he’s listed third on the depth chart, but I think for some reason I just have a good feeling he’ll be the guy walking out there with the offense.”

CWU is coming off a solid season opener versus the University of Idaho in a game that was never out of reach until a 27-yard scamper up the middle put CWU down 10 with 1:35 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Central saw a respectable performance from redshirt freshman quarterback Canon Racanelli, completing 13-of-31 passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Junior Michael Roots picked up right where he left off last season, as the GNAC Newcomer of the Year tallied 113 yards on 22 carries.

Racanelli connected with junior wideout Tony Archie on seven completions for 86 yards and one score. Archie finished the contest with eight catches, 146 yards, and two touchdowns. He caught a 60-yard score on a pass from receiver JoJo Hillel and also threw one a 39-score to Hillel. Archie earned GNAC Offensive Player of the Week.

Defensively, senior linebacker Donte Hamilton was GNAC Defensive Player of the Week with racking up 17 tackles and one sack for a loss of eight yards. Three other players compiled double-digit tackles (Cody O’Connell, 14; Max Randle, 13; Chaz McKenzie, 12).

This showdown will tell CWU how it matches up with one of the best teams in the country, as it hopes to defend its home turf at 4 p.m. Saturday.

“I have full trust in our game plan,” Racanelli said. “I think I had full trust last week, and that’s why we competed. And I think we got a really good chance … I think we’ll win.”

Luke Olson: lolson@kvnews.com; on Twitter: @lukeolsonb.

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