By Tommy Keeler Jr.
FRONT ROYAL - With the playoff just a couple weeks away, Sherando wanted to make sure it was playing up to its potential when the Warriors took on Skyline on Friday night -- mission accomplished.
The Warriors used a stifling defense and a balanced attack on offense in a 55-7 rout over Skyline in Northwestern District action.
"We knew in these last few games we weren't facing some of the better teams, but we wanted to come out and play the way we were capable of playing," Sherando senior quarterback Reid Entsminger said. "I think the score and the way we played showed that we did that tonight."
Sherando's Rhett Morris intercepted a Jerrius Baltimore pass on the game's opening drive and it didn't take long for the Warriors to score.
The Warriors (8-1, 3-0 Northwestern) used four plays to go 35 yards, including three consecutive runs by George Aston. The last of Aston's runs was for a 5-yard touchdown to give Sherando a 7-0 lead with 9:13 left in the first quarter.
The Warriors added to their lead on their next possession. Aston capped off a five-play 47-yard drive with another 4-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 lead with 6:49 left in the first quarter. A 32-yard scamper by Entsminger helped set up the touchdown.
Sherando added to its lead late in the first quarter. The Warriors 66 yards on eight plays. Sherando's LeeQuan Johnson had a 16-yard touchdown run, on third-and-4, to give the Warriors a 21-0 lead with 1:18 left in the opening quarter.
"On offense we just try to take what the other team gives us," Sherando coach Bill Hall said.
On the ensuing possession, the Hawks put together a nice drive. They used 16 plays to drive the ball 61 yards to the Sherando 9-yard line. The Warriors defense held, as Baltimore threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-10 from the Sherando 11.
"We had a chance to make a play there, and we just didn't quite pull it in," Skyline coach Heath Gilbert said.
Baltimore ran for 54 yards on the drive, including a 12-yard run on fourth-and-10 from the Sherando 36. Baltimore was playing at quarterback due to an injury to Corban Ruch.
The Warriors then went 89 yards on just four plays. The passing game made the big plays on the drive. Entsminger connected with Johnson for an 18-yard gain. Then Entsminger hit Josh Ojo in stride at the Sherando 40 for a 65-yard tocuhdown pass and a 28-0 lead with 5:24 left in the first half.
"The play before that Ojo came up to me and said 'dude, I can beat this dude that's on me,'" Entsminger said. "So, it was man coverage, I thought I'll trust Ojo. I threw it up to him, and he just ran underneath it and made the touchdown."
On Sherando's next possession, Johnson took it in from 24 yards out for a 35-0 lead with 3:38 left in the first half.
The Warriors extended the lead right before the end of the half. Sherando used five plays to go 57 yards. Entsminger threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Adam Whitacre for a 42-0 lead with 33 seconds left in the half.
Gilbert said he was happy with the way his players battled against a quality team.
"I'm glad the kids didn't just roll over," Gilbert said. "They tried their best."
Baltimore led the Hawks with 71 yards rushing on 20 carries. He also had 49 yards passing.
The Hawks (4-6, 1-3) have next week off, before playing in the first round of the Division 3 playoffs the following week.
"I the kids need the time off to get rested and then we'll come back and see who we play in the playoffs," Gilbert said.
Entsminger threw for 169 yards on 8 for 11 passing. Johnson ran for 95 yards on nine carries. As a team the Warriors ran for 281 yards.
The Warriors are currently the top seed in the Class 4A North Region, and Entsminger said the team would love to maintain that spot as they head into the playoffs.
"Of course, you want to be the best and get that top spot," Entsminger said. "We'd love for this to be our last road game of the season until the state championship game, possibly if we could make it that far. We just want to keep winning games, and taking it week to week."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or email@example.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd