Skyline Football Notebook: Defense steps up for Hawks in victory

Strasburg's Austin Miller is held by a wall of Skyline defensemen led by Nathan Abel, right, during first quarter action Friday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL –Skyline coach Heath Gilbert knew Strasburg’s run game was going to be a challenge for his team in last Friday’s 28-26 non-district football victory.

The Rams relied a lot on the run, while the Hawks hadn’t been very good at stopping the run. Gilbert said he was very proud of the way his defense stepped up. He said it also helped that they had a bye week to help prepare for Strasburg.

“That was a huge emphasis for us during the bye week,” Gilbert said of stopping the run. “And we wanted to try and improve that and we worked really hard. And obviously we’re not there yet, but we’re showing progress. And (Friday) the boys were able to make some stops. So that was great to see.”

Gilbert said he was very happy with how his defensive line played.

He said they also made a personnel adjustment, which he think helped. The Hawks moved defensive end Nathan Abel to linebacker.

“We felt like we had a number of defensive ends. And maybe a longer, stouter kid to play that edge was able to help us a little bit, too,” Gilbert said of Abel.

The Hawks held Strasburg to 0 rushing yards in the first half on nine carries.

Skyline defensive lineman Marcel Roy said it felt great having so much success on defense.

“We came out hard. We had a good week of practice,” Roy said. “And then we just came out to play.”

STRONG GROUP: The wide receivers have been a strength of Skyline’s for a number of years and that is certainly the case this season.

Skyline has several of the area’s top wide receivers statistically. The Hawks played Strasburg without wide receiver Trenton King, who leads the area in receptions this season,  due to injury.

The Hawks didn’t miss a beat. Senior Matt Rutherford filled in for King and had six catches for 90 yards and one score. Skyline had five different players make at least one catch. Louis Garcia had six catches for 82 yards.

“We got many guys that can step up, not just Matt (Rutherford),” Skyline quarterback Ryan Scott said. “We have plenty of guys that if they get the chance they’ll do good. We got a good wide receiver corps.”

Scott threw for 256 yards on 18-for-28 passing in the game.

STEPPING UP: Wide receiver wasn’t the only position where Skyline was short-handed against the Rams.

Gilbert said that four or five starters were out due to injuries, including a few lineman.

“That was tough,” Gilbert said of overcoming the injuries. “And those guys rallied around each other and found a way to get it done. I’m so proud of them.”

Gilbert said he was very happy with how his team responded after Strasburg had taken the momentum away from Skyline in the second half.

“Our kids did battle right back,” Gilbert said. “We were fortunate to stay with it, and not drop our heads and find a way. I told the boys it doesn’t matter what we win by. We just got to have one more point than them.”