Athlete of the Week: Entsminger shows leadership, poise to final whistle for Warriors

Hunter Entsminger   Rich Cooley/Daily

Hunter Entsminger Rich Cooley/Daily

STEPHENS CITY – Before Hunter Entsminger took over as the starting quarterback for Sherando High School’s football team this season, Warriors head coach Bill Hall had a discussion with his soon-to-be signal-caller.

Part of that talk, Hall recalled on Monday afternoon, focused on Entsminger’s willingness to “put himself out there” and not being afraid of failure as a sophomore playing a highly scrutinized position. The other half centered around the sophomore playing outside of the shadows of his older brother Reid, a former Sherando quarterback who led the Warriors to a state championship game appearance in 2013 and was voted the Group 4A 2014 Male Athlete of the Year by the Virginia High School League, and their NFL MVP grandfather, former Washington Redskins kicker Mark Moseley.

“We talked very specifically about those things,” Hall said, “about how this is about Hunter’s journey here at Sherando and you’re a different quarterback than Reid and you’re a different player than your granddad, and this is gonna be all about you realizing your potential. At the end of the day, if you realize your potential, you can live with it.”

Hunter Entsminger laid the foundation for a promising high school football career in 2016, when he completed 63.9 percent of his passes for 1,337 yards, 15 touchdowns and four interceptions in nine games for the Warriors. Sherando’s season ended last Friday with a heartbreaking 42-41 loss to Millbrook, but Entsminger showed off poise and resiliency reminiscent of a veteran QB until the final second ticked off the clock of the Warriors’ season.

Entsminger, The Northern Virginia Daily’s Athlete of the Week for Oct. 31-Nov. 6, completed 21 of 36 passes for 247 yards and five touchdowns in the loss and marched the Warriors down the field in the closing minute on a potential game-winning drive that came up a completion short of a comeback.

Twice against Millbrook, Entsminger immediately followed a turnover by orchestrating a touchdown drive.

“He’s in a natural position that they’re gonna say how does he respond to that?” Hall said of Entsminger’s two turnovers. “And the fact that he kept responding obviously spoke volumes about him and it helped lead our team.”

Entsminger’s ability to shrug off a mistake shined brightest late in the fourth quarter against Millbrook.

With the score tied at 35-all in a game that would decide the Northwestern District champion, Entsminger took a second-down snap from Sherando’s 25-yard line and was forced to scramble to his right as pressure came off the edge from Millbrook’s Demarco Brown. Entsminger was tripped up in the backfield and lost a handle on the football, allowing the Pioneers to recover the fumble at the Warriors’ 24 with a prime chance for the go-ahead score with five minutes to play.

Sherando’s defense held, forcing the Pioneers into a 28-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide right. Beginning at the Sherando 20, the Warriors’ offense covered 80 yards on seven plays for a go-ahead touchdown with 1:18 to play. Entsminger completed all three of his passes for 38 yards on the drive, capping the possession with a 17-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Dylan Rivers.

“I mean coming off turnovers is like, it’s my fault. It’s no one else’s,” Entsminger said. “It’s all on me and so I’ve gotta come back and show them that I still am not gonna give up just because I had a miscue.”

Even when the Pioneers stunned the Warriors with a 54-yard touchdown pass to take a 42-21 lead with 47 seconds left, Entsminger appeared unfazed. He completed three more passes to help drive Sherando to the Millbrook 27, where back-to-back pass attempts to Rivers in the end zone were batted away to end the game.

Entsminger credited his poise in operating the Warriors’ no-huddle offense to all of the preparation time spent with his head coach.

“Coach Hall’s a great coach. I mean we go though all this. We have fastball, which is our no-huddle offense. We do it every week. We do it Wednesday, Thursday,” Entsminger said. “It’s just about getting the feel down for it, like what I’m supposed to do, how I’m supposed to run it. Things like that really just get me ready for that game-time situation.”

Entsminger’s five touchdown passes against the Pioneers tied his brother for the most in a game by a Sherando quarterback. His 21 completions were the third-most in a game in school history, and his 15 touchdown passes this fall ranks fourth on Sherando’s all-time list.

Hall praised Entsminger’s ability and willingness to progress through his reads on pass plays, adding that the sophomore is “just scratching the surface” of his overall potential.

Entsminger, who has already garnered the respect as a leader of the Warriors’ offense despite his underclassman status, said he hopes to continue to build on that role over the next two years.

“I mean I’m a quiet guy when it comes to being around people, so I’ve just gotta … be more vocal with them, show them that I care about them, that they can trust me when I need to be there and just be that leader that they need,” Entsminger said.

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

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