Warriors explosive in blowout over Hawks

STEPHENS CITY – Sherando High School’s football team ran just 31 offensive plays in its final home game of the season Friday night, while Skyline ran 72 offensive snaps. Sherando completed just one pass against Skyline’s 19 completions, and the Warriors had 12 first downs compared to the Hawks’ 18. But Sherando was the runaway winner on the scoreboard.

Explosive plays littered the Warriors’ performance on Senior Night as Sherando ran for 502 yards, had three 100-yard rushers and scored three special teams touchdowns in a 76-13 rout of the Hawks to keep its slim playoff hopes alive.

The win marked the second time that Sherando (5-4, 3-0 Northwestern District), which fell on the road at Fort Hill (Maryland) last week, has followed a loss by putting up 70 points against an opposing team, and the victory sets up a trip to Millbrook next week with the Northwestern District title on the line.

“Our guys seem to be resilient, you know,” Warriors head coach Bill Hall said. “They’ve kind of been through some wars this year, so they keep fighting, bouncing back.”

Sherando sophomore running back T.J. Washington paced the Warriors’ ground attack with 165 yards and three touchdowns on eight carries while adding a 58-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first half. Tight end Dylan Rivers, who took multiple snaps in a wildcat-quarterback role with sophomore QB Hunter Entsminger sidelined Friday night, had five carries for 115 yards and two touchdowns – one on a 99-yard run – and threw for another score, while junior Kolby Schlag piled up 126 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just five carries in the second half.

Aside from four kneel downs by Sherando’s offense inside the Skyline 10-yard line to end the game, the Warriors averaged 20.3 yards per carry.

“We get so happy when we create those holes,” Warriors senior offensive lineman Jose Guevara said. “Even if we get like 4 yards, 5 yards each run we’re still positive. So it makes us feel happy.”

The onslaught began right from the opening kick, as Sherando junior Aaron Banks took a kickoff 76 yards to the end zone to begin a barrage of big plays that amounted to a cozy 55-6 lead for the Warriors at halftime on a chilly night at Arrowhead stadium.

On Sherando’s second offensive play of the game, Rivers took a direct snap with the Warriors backed up against their own end zone and covered the length of the field, initially bursting up the middle, bouncing out to the right, crossing back across the field and stiff-arming a defender at the Skyline 48 before completing the 99-yard jaunt to the end zone.

The Warriors needed just two more offensive plays on their second drive of the night when Washington scampered in from 26 yards out to put Sherando up 20-0 less than eight minutes into the game.

“It’s kind of exciting,” said Washington of an offensive performance that saw Sherando score four touchdowns on their first seven offensive plays. “It’s just a great team to be around. Like once we start scoring, we know we can progress and keep scoring again.”

An interception by senior Adam Miller on a tipped pass from Skyline (2-7, 1-3 Northwestern) quarterback Ryan Scott set up Rivers’ 1-yard plunge, and Washington made it 34-0 Warriors late in the first quarter with a 43-yard touchdown run when he started right, stepped out of a tackle near the line of scrimmage and reversed field before juking a defender at the Hawks’ 9.

Rivers found Adam Miller for a 9-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to give Sherando a 41-6 lead, and Washington added a 58-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter.

“We thought our special teams should be able to create an advantage for us,” Hall said. “There was a lot of good blocking going on to create those things. Hats off to all those special units that set up those guys returning. I mean they did some nice things but there’s a lot of blocking going on.”

Washington closed the first half with a 70-yard touchdown run on his final carry of the night.

“That was a major one because we worked on that a lot,” said Washington, who dodged and slipped away from would-be Skyline tacklers on nearly every one of his touches. “Jose (Guevara), he’s always saying just follow him and cut off his block, and that’s what I did.”

Skyline’s offense, which failed to convert a fourth-and-short deep in its own territory in the first quarter along with the interception, found some success in the quick passing game on its fifth possession of the night.

Riding five consecutive completions from Scott, the Hawks drove 65 yards on nine plays before running back Tucker Fortney (14 carries, 65 yards) plunged into the end zone from a yard out to cut the Warriors’ lead to 34-6 with 10:46 left in the first half.

Skyline added an 11-play, 77-yard scoring drive to open the second half, which ended on Scott’s 6-yard touchdown run.

Scott, who completed 17 of 26 passes for 135 yards and rushed for 70 yards, led a Skyline offense that finished with 322 total yards.

“They’re a strong program,” Hawks head coach Heath Gilbert said. “We’re already down against them as it is even over the years with our best teams, just being able to compete against their so-so teams, so when we don’t have our best team – and obviously this isn’t a year that we’ve had one of our best teams and we’re down five starters coming into a game – it’s gonna be really tough for us to come in and compete against a team like Sherando.”

The Warriors came right back and countered Skyline’s second-half score with two 8-yard touchdown runs by Schlag, and Sherando’s Nathan Wagner returned a fumble on a Skyline kickoff return 20 yards to cap the scoring early in the fourth quarter.

Skyline returns to action to take on cross-town rival Warren County next Friday night, while Sherando will travel to Millbrook with a district title on the line and in a must-win situation to have any shot of making the Group 4A playoff field.

“Our guys, every week’s so precious you’d like for them to be able to enjoy this for at least 24 hours, but we’ll start tomorrow morning on Millbrook – but proud of our guys tonight,” Hall said.

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

Box score

Warriors 76, Hawks 13
Skyline 0 6 7 0 – 13
Sherando 34 21 14 7 – 76
First Quarter
SH: Banks 76 kickoff return (kick blocked), 11:47.
SH: Rivers 99 run (Wagner kick), 6:45.
SH: Washington 26 run (Wagner kick), 4:30.
SH: Rivers 1 run (Wagner kick), 3:08.
SH: Washington 43 run (Wagner kick), 0:54.
Second Quarter
SK: Fortney 2 run (kick blocked), 10:46.
SH: A. Miller 9 pass from Rivers (Wagner kick), 7:29.
SH: Washington 58 punt return (Wagner kick), 4:59.
SH: Washington 70 run (Wagner kick), 1:10.
Third Quarter
SK: Scott 6 run (Peacock kick), 6:36.
SH: Schlag 8 run (Wagner kick), 5:55.
SH: Schlag 8 run (Wagner kick), 0:13.
Fourth Quarter
SH: Wagner 20 fumble recovery (Wagner kick), 11:26.
First downs 18 12
Rushes-yards 43-188 29-502
Passing yards 134 9
Comp-Att-Int 19-29-1 1-2-0
Penalties-yards 4-23 4-40
Fumbles-lost 4-1 1-0
Punts-avg. 3-35.7 0-0
RUSHING: Skyline, Fortney 14-65, Scott 9-70, Brown 6-21, McHugh 6-36, Rutherford 3-10, Smoot 2-10; Sherando, Washington 8-165, Rivers 5-115, Wagner 3-30, Schlag 5-126, Pangle 4-72.
PASSING: Skyline, Scott 17-26-135-0-1, Rutherford 2-3-(-1)-0-0; Sherando, Barbe 0-1-0-0-0, Rivers 1-1-9-1-0.
RECEIVING: Skyling, Garcia 6-43, Reedy 3-39, Timbers 2-9, King 3-20, Clingerman 2-17, Fortney 1-7, Barber 2-(-1); Sherando, A. Miller 1-9.