A rivalry renewed: Rams, Hawks meet for first time since 2008

Strasburg's Austin Miller runs down the sideline for a big gain as Warren County's Cody Petitt purses during second quarter action. Rich Cooley/Daily

Skyline and Strasburg have not played each other in football since 2008, but tonight the two schools will meet once again in a non-district clash.

The two schools played each other in Skyline’s first two seasons, and Skyline coach Heath Gilbert said it’s nice to be playing them again.

“We have a lot of respect for Strasburg and their community’s passion for their team,” Gilbert said. “I know (Strasburg) coach (Mark) Roller and his staff do a great job preparing their kids.”

If the two schools continue to play each other, it could be the beginning of a good rivalry.

Roller said he’s happy to be playing Skyline again and he thinks it helps his team get ready to play Bull Run District games.

“I think its a good rival, being able to play both Warren County and Skyline,” Roller said. “They’re so close and the difference there is the size of the number of kids they have to choose from. Certainly for us being able to play bigger schools, that helps us prepare for our district.”

Both teams are coming off tough losses. Skyline had a bye week last week, but lost 40-0 to Handley on Sept. 16.

The Hawks (1-3) were without running back Quentin Diggs and quarterback Ryan Scott for that game. Scott started the game but had to come out early in the game due to an illness.

Scott said the bye week helped the team get healthy and improve.

“The bye week was huge for us,” Scott said. “It helped us get in more plays, more practice, get our timing right. The bye week really helped us in establishing our game.”

The Hawks have been solid on offense all season, and will be bolstered by the return of Diggs. The senior running back has 147 rushing yards this season.

Strasburg linebacker Austin Miller said the Rams will have to play solid on defense to slow down the Hawks’ balanced attack.

“(Scott), he’s a heck of a player. He’s a playmaker,” Miller said. “He can get out and scramble and still make plays. Kind of reminds me of (Strasburg graduate) Troy (Gordon) when he used to play here just how he extends the play so much. Diggs, he’s a pretty good runner. He looks like a solid runner.”

Scott said it will be important for the Hawks to establish the running game early to open up the passing game.

Scott has thrown for 554 yards this season with seven touchdowns in three games. Skyline’s Trenton King leads the area with 16 catches for 217 yards and four touchdowns. Louis Garcia has 13 receptions for 186 yards and one score. Eight different players have caught at least one pass this season for the Hawks.

“All my receivers, I can trust every single one of them,” Scott said. “When I throw the ball I know they’ll catch it. It’s nice having all of them having a good relationship with me and good chemistry.”

Scott is just as effective running the ball in the Hawks’ read option offense as he is throwing it. He has 231 rushing yards and two scores.

The Rams (2-2) are coming off a tough 34-22 loss to Warren County, after Strasburg had a 16-0 lead early in the game.

Miller said he feels like the team has refocused well after the defeat.

“I think we definitely learned from it,” Miller said. “I hope we can come out (today) and take what we’ve learned from our mistakes last week and the week before and just put them into this game. And hopefully come out with a win in this game.”

Miller has led the way in the run game for the Rams this season, while Strasburg has used both Dylan Hamrick and Chase Hart at quarterback.

The Hawks have struggled defensively throughout the season and Gilbert said they made some progress during their bye week on defense.

“We need to be more consistent in our technique and assignments,” Gilbert said. “We worked hard to improve in these areas.”

The game could be a pivotal one for both teams. Strasburg begins its district play next week, and Miller said a win over Skyline would give the Rams a real boost.

“I think mostly if we get this win going into district play I think it will be good for the team,” Miller said. “Then we’ll have momentum, just after a win, going into the district (schedule).”