Football Preview 2017: QB Scott enters senior season as ‘the man’ in Hawks’ offense
FRONT ROYAL – Ryan Scott entered his junior season with Skyline High School’s football team last fall in competition with Colin Smith before emerging as the Hawks’ starting quarterback for the 2016 season.
Scott held that starring role in the Hawks’ offense all season, amassing nearly 2,000 yards of total offense over 10 games in his first year as a starter while the team itself struggled to a 2-8 record. Entering his senior season this fall, Scott is free from the uncertainty he faced last preseason as he prepares to captain the Hawks’ offense again in 2017.
“He was a totally different kid last year at this time because he was kind of competing and (the team) really wasn’t his,” Hawks head coach Heath Gilbert said earlier this month. “It is his now. And it’s clear that he knows he’s the man and it’s his offense.”
Now more confident at the position and more receptive to the natural leadership responsibilities that come with playing quarterback – “It’s the job,” Scott said – the senior made it a point in offseason workouts and preseason practice to become more vocal. But that’s just the first stride amongst many that Scott has made in order to ensure that his final high school season is his best yet.
Scott attended a handful of prospect camps in the offseason, he said, and developed a better sense of throwing his receivers open instead of waiting to pass the ball after his targets broke free of their defenders and remaining in the pocket longer while under pressure.
He worked out at Frisby’s Agility, Speed and Strength Training (FASST) in Winchester to improve his footwork and become more agile.
Scott hit the weight room hard and gained about 25 pounds – he entered camp at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds – without feeling like he’s sacrificed the mobility that is a key asset to Skyline’s offense, which heavily features the read-option.
All of that improvement, paired with the experience Scott gained last season, allows Skyline to open up the playbook in 2017 and branch out from the “basic package” that Gilbert said the Hawks operated with last season due to the unit’s amount of inexperience.
Gilbert confirmed that Skyline’s offensive playbook will feature more “wrinkles” than last season, adding that the Hawks have been able to implement more run-pass options into the mix now that Scott is comfortable with the offense.
“This year we’ve put in a lot more options,” Scott said, “so I can pull it more and have more pitches available. This offense is kind of based around what our team can do and what I can do.”
Like last season, when Scott completed 123 of 203 passes (60.6 percent) for 1,544 yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions and rushed 114 times for 385 yards and three TDs, the senior quarterback will be given freedom to make his own calls.
“The reads are all up to me, and I can kill that play, call a different play. I can read it and then pull it and then throw it to another receiver,” Scott said. “It’s all on me this year.”
Scott will have help around him, however. His top two receiving targets from last season – seniors Luis Garcia and Trenton King – are back after combining to snag 67 receptions for 963 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016.
Senior running backs Quentin Diggs (team-high 439 rushing yards, five touchdowns last season) and Tucker Fortney (339 rushing yards, five TDs) also return, giving the Hawks a veteran core of skill players.
“We’re so much further ahead with these guys through the summer stuff because they have a really good grasp of what’s going on,” Gilbert said.
Among Scott’s list of goals for the 2017 season are a winning season, a Northwestern District title and a return to the playoffs for a Hawks squad that missed out on the postseason for the first time since 2011 last fall.
Scott also wants to eclipse 2,000 yards of total offense after falling just 71 yards short of that mark a season ago.
“I really think he could have a special season,” Gilbert said.