On and Off the Field, Ferriter a Fighter

By Beacon Staff

It was sheer joy for Griz Nation with the recent selection of a pair of University of Montana players in the National Football League draft. It’s the second time in the last three years that has happened, but only the sixth time the school’s storied football history.

And the celebration continued after the completion of the draft with three additional players from the Football Championship Subdivision runner-up signing free agent contracts. And four of the five were in-state athletes.

There couldn’t be a more deserving and winning group than these teammates who won more games in a four-year period than any in UM’s history.

But the Griz football excitement almost immediately turned to concern with the announcement that former receiver Mike Ferriter was waging an eight-month battle with testicular cancer.

And to make things even more challenging for the Ferriter family, Mike’s brother, Kevin, is bedridden with a genetic bone disorder.

A microcosm of life, sport does have a way of putting everything in perspective.

Mike, a Helena High product, is the cousin of two-time All-American Vince Huntsberger, now a physician.

When he arrived on the Missoula campus, he was one of those guys who quickly endeared himself to everyone.

Maybe it is his blonde hair and blue eyes, or his quick smile that lights up a room, his wit or his willingness to do whatever was asked of him both on the field and off.

A three-time, all-state quarterback for the Bengals, like many high school quarterbacks before him, the speedster Ferriter moved to wide receiver at the start of his redshirt season in 2004.

It’s that attitude: What can I do to help the team and get on the football field?

Helena High’s record-holder in the 300-meter hurdles and a member of the state champion and record-setting 400-meter relay team, Ferriter was the quickest of Griz receivers in his tenure.

He was the guy the ball went to in the clutch. And it was rare that he didn’t deliver with concise pass patterns and there were few balls he didn’t haul in.

From 2005-2008 Ferriter caught 147 passes for 2,089 yards, ranking 11th in Griz history in both categories.

While he didn’t have an injury-plagued career, he missed a game his freshman season after breaking his nose against Cal Poly, but was back in the lineup the following week.

But it was during a 2006 game that both you and I will remember most, as he put his arm down while trying to make a catch in the first-round playoff game against McNeese State and broke his arm, causing him to miss the next two playoff games.

The replay was excruciating. But he bounced back with a 733-yard campaign the following year and completed his eligibility with 50 catches and 820 yards his senior year, sharing the Terry Dillon award as the team’s top receiver or back with Marc Mariani and Chase Reynolds.

So you see, there’s no doubt that Mike knows how to fight the good fight, which is exactly what he is doing now. He recently completed chemotherapy.

When his teammates, headed by former roommate and quarterback Cole Bergquist, found out that the family was beset with horde of medical bills, they organized a fundraiser in Missoula scheduled for May 6.

Mike Ferriter gave us five years of his best effort, resulting in a plethora of victories and you can help him both by keeping his plight in your thoughts and prayers and donating to the Ferriter Family Fundraiser, c/o First Interstate Bank.

There’s no doubt it’s the right thing to do.