Hamman taking the reins of Hawks’ offense

Skyline High School head coach Heath Gilbert looks over his list during a recent practice. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – The quarterback position was one of the many holes Skyline’s football team needed to fill this season and head coach Heath Gilbert has praised the progression of senior Dylan Hamman as he prepares to make his first varsity start on Friday at Central.

Serving as the backup last season to former Hawks quarterback Corban Ruch – who has transferred to Randolph-Macon Academy – Hamman set himself up for success this fall, Gilbert said recently, and the head coach was particularly pleased with Hamman’s performance in last Thursday’s scrimmage at William Monroe.

Hamman threw four touchdown passes, Gilbert said, and under threw a pass that could’ve been a fifth score.

“He’s really done a good job taking command of the offense,” Gilbert said after practice Monday. “… That’s fantastic to see him do those things and make the correct reads, going through his progressions. That’s positive. We’re not a crazy offensive concept scheme but we do have things that they’re supposed to read and he’s done a great job with that.”

Although Hamman has yet to start a varsity game, he does bring some experience to Skyline’s offense. In addition to the limited game action he saw last season, he led Skyline during 7-on-7 competition over the summer.

“I took away watching how the other teams played and how our team is going to play,” said Hamman, who also served as the Hawks varsity backup while starting for the JV squad in 2013.

In 10 regular season games last fall, Skyline’s offense averaged 330 yards per game and was balanced in its attack, rushing for 152.4 yards per game while passing for 177.6 yards per contest. Gilbert said Skyline’s offense won’t look different with Hamman now at the helm, adding that the senior has looked sharp when running play-action and quick screen passes.

“He does a great job with that, with his footwork and getting the ball out,” Gilbert said. “The five-step concepts are the most difficult. When you’re sprinting out it’s a little easier. When you’re booting away it’s a little easier. It reduces the field and you have specific reads and then you do this based off that or that based off this. He does a great job with that.”

A FRESH START: Brad Halsey admits he got into some trouble at Westfield High School in Chantilly. For that reason, and because he has family in Front Royal, Halsey decided to transfer to Skyline last December to “move away from everything” and get a fresh start.

He’s getting that with the Hawks this season, and figures to make an immediate impact in Skyline’s backfield in 2015 – Gilbert said Monday that Halsey has emerged as the Hawks’ top option at running back heading into the season opener.

In last week’s scrimmage, Halsey broke off a pair of “explosive” plays in the running game, Gilbert said, while also returning a kickoff for a touchdown. Gilbert added that the junior is also decisive in his reads with the ball in his hands.

“I mean, he has the wiggle to make you miss but he sees that cut and he goes, man,” Gilbert said. “He gets up inside the kick-outs whenever he’s supposed to, whatever the read is, and he finds a hole and explodes.”

Listed at 5-foot-9, 142 pounds, Halsey’s size presents some durability concerns, and Gilbert said the coaching staff will have to be “judicious” with the junior’s carries in order to keep him healthy and fresh throughout the season. Gilbert said the Hawks will rely on a handful of inexperienced backs – including sophomores Quentin Diggs and Tucker Fortney and junior Daniel Guizar – to lighten the workload for Halsey.

Halsey, one of the many Hawks who will make their first varsity starts this week, said the offense has been a work in progress this fall, as expected with so many new faces.

“We’re getting there,” Halsey said. “Everybody is, some days, on the same page but we all need to get on the same page. There are people that are just now getting thrown into positions and don’t know what to do and we’re kind of coming off slow. I just think everybody needs to kind of figure out what they’re doing and do their own part and bring everything together.”

GAINING CONFIDENCE: Gilbert was displeased with how Skyline handled Dominion High School’s size in the team’s first scrimmage on Aug. 14, but he said last Thursday’s scrimmage against fellow Group 3A member William Monroe was a much different experience.

The Hawks won the scrimmage 5-2, Gilbert said, but more importantly, showed poise that didn’t exist in their first exhibition contest.

“The biggest thing … (was) just the confidence building in the kids, because it was rough against Dominion, man. It was rough. They put it to us,” Gilbert said. “They were big and physical and we weren’t ready for that. It was demoralizing. … We were pretty happy with what we did out there on both sides of the ball [against William Monroe]. We’re growing defensively. Their grades are getting better on the D-line, so it’s all good.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com