Hawks not taking winless Blue Devils lightly

Skyline quarterback Ryan Scott is chased by Strasburg's Tarkan Eastham during fourth quarter action Friday night .Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — Skyline may be facing a winless football team tonight when it plays at Culpeper, but the Hawks won’t be taking them lightly.

Culpeper has played five quality opponents, including several Class 4 teams. Culpeper and Skyline are both Class 3 teams.

“Even through they’re 0-5 they play a lot of schools that are higher than them, like we did last year,” Skyline senior Quentin Diggs said. “So we can’t underestimate them. This might be the best 0-5 team that we play. So we got to play the same way we did against Strasburg (last week) and have a good mindset.”

The Hawks (2-3) are not sure who will be at quarterback for the Blue Devils. Skyline coach Heath Gilbert said that Culpeper sophomore Eric Wilson suffered a dislocated shoulder in the second week of the season and it is not known when he will return.

Gilbert said that Culpeper moved wide receiver Capone Hoffman to wide receiver and became more of a running team. He said they use different offenses, including the single wing to try to get the ball in Hoffman’s hands.

“They’re just trying to get as many bodies in front of Hoffman as they can to give him some space to run,” Gilbert said. “They’re a challenge because they’re all over the board with what they want to do. But it ultimately comes down to their using different ways to get Hoffman the ball.”

Gilbert said that the Blue Devils are solid on defense as well. He said 6-foot-1, 200-pound Culpeper senior Lewis Chapman is really talented, and a key to their defensive front.

The Hawks and Blue Devils (0-5) played each other two years ago in the playoffs, with Skyline winning.

Skyline is currently the fifth seed in the Virginia High School League Class 3, Region B football power ratings. Culpeper is the eighth seed.

Skyline is coming off a 28-26 victory over Strasburg last week. The Hawks looked sharp on both sides of the ball in the victory.

Skyline junior Ty Clingerman said the victory was a good morale booster for the team.

“That was huge for us, just giving us confidence for the weeks coming up,” Clingerman said.

Clingerman had a big game, especially defensively. He had an interception and came up with a big stop on a critical two-point conversion in the final minutes.

“Their two-point plan was a really important part of our game, and what we were going to do,” Gilbert said of Clingerman’s game against Strasburg. “I felt really good about it, because I knew they were going to go to the right. And it was going to be right to Ty. And Ty’s not going to make a mistake. He’s going to be doing what he needs to do.”

The Hawks are led by senior quarterback Ryan Scott with 805 passing yards and nine touchdowns. Scott also has 224 yards rushing with two touchdowns. Louis Garcia has 19 receptions for 265 yards and one score.

Diggs leads the ground attack with 284 yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively, Justin Jenkins leads Skyline with 63 tackles, while Matt Rutherford has 57.

Skyline had a strong running attack against the Rams, led by 125 yards from Diggs and two scores.

Diggs said if they can repeat that against Culpeper they should be fine.

“Our line just has to do what we did last game and it will help our run game,” Diggs said. “Once we establish the run game everything else will work together.”

Clingerman said he feels like the team is finally coming together like it should.

“At the beginning of the year, we thought this could be a playoff run team,” Clingerman said. “And I think after getting that win, I think we’re looking more into that — that we could be a playoff contender.”