Warriors hoping for better showing in Week 2 against Bulldogs

Sherando High School’s football season started on a sour note last week when the Warriors fell at home to Louisa County in the waning seconds, a game in which head coach Bill Hall said his team “didn’t put our best foot forward.”

Seeking to learn from that 21-20 loss, which saw Louisa score and convert the winning 2-point conversion with 12 seconds to play, Hall said Thursday that much of the conversation at practice has centered around earning success on the football field.

“This is a new team and these guys have to establish their own identity and they have to develop their own name for themselves,” Hall said. “You can’t just put on the jersey that says Sherando and expect certain things to happen. You have to earn that. I don’t think we did a good job earning that win last week and it came out on the scoreboard.”

The Warriors (0-1) are now seeking a rebound at 7 p.m. today when they travel to Martinsburg, West Virginia, a familiar opponent and a perennial power in West Virginia Class AAA.

Martinsburg, which reached the state quarterfinals last season (the Bulldogs won four straight West Virginia state titles from 2010-2013), opened its 2016 season with a 56-14 drubbing of Eastern (D.C.) last Friday night.

Sherando and Martinsburg have squared off every season since 2011, with the Warriors snapping a four-game losing streak to the Bulldogs with a 21-14 victory in Stephens City last season. For the Warriors to repeat that performance, they will almost certainly need to show improvement from Week 1 to Week 2.

“It’s not so much schematically for us as much as it is making sure that our minds are right,” Hall said. “And not that we underestimated Louisa by any means, I just don’t think we played the way we’re capable of … and that’s my job as a coach to make sure that we achieve that level.”

Martinsburg showed its explosiveness against Eastern by scoring seven combined touchdowns in the second and third quarters en route to a 56-0 lead. The Bulldogs finished with 409 yards of offense, led by a three-touchdown performance by junior running back Mikey Jackson and four passing touchdowns from 6-foot-2, 203-pound junior quarterback Tyson Bagent, who completed 14 of 22 passes for 182 yards.

Hall said the Bulldogs are as efficient as they’ve ever been in executing their quick passing game, and he said it’ll be important for the Warriors to vary their defensive looks in order to slow down Martinsburg’s spread offense.

“You have to kind of switch coverages and I think you have to pick your spots in terms of when you wanna apply pressure. I think you have to get the quarterback off his mark. If he can just stand back there he’s talented enough where he can kind of pick you apart,” Hall said.

“The reality is, I think last year they threw the ball over 40 times against us. They’re gonna have plays that are successful. It’s about how do you respond to those things and how do you have people flying to the ball? You can’t let a 5-yard quick-game pass go for 50 or 70.”

In last week’s loss to Louisa, Sherando’s defense surrendered 428 yards, including 345 yards rushing on 65 carries. Hall said the Lions’ lofty rushing total came from a combination of Louisa exploiting weaknesses in the Warriors’ defense and lopsided time of possession in the second half.

“It was one of those things where we couldn’t get off the field,” said Hall, who added that Sherando took three offensive snaps in the third quarter. “I think they were working on our weak side but it was more of an execution thing from our standpoint.”

Offensively, Sherando mustered only 193 yards last week – including just 6 yards rushing – but Hall said he was “absolutely” encouraged by the performance of sophomore quarterback Hunter Entsminger, who completed 16 of 21 passes for 187 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in his varsity debut.

Martinsburg allowed 266 yards to Eastern last week, although the Bulldogs played their reserves for a good portion of the second half. Martinsburg has shut out Sherando in three of their four wins over the Warriors since 2011.

“They have a good front. They’re athletic in the secondary and they play hard-nosed football, which is always a good recipe for success,” Hall said. “I think that’s a reason why we’ve always had good games with them. We might look a little bit different but we’re built with a lot of the same characteristics. That’s what makes a good matchup.”

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