Skyline ready for tough road challenge against Tigers

Skyline's Quentin Diggs finds an opening for a large gain last week against William Monroe. The Hawks play at Brentsville tonight. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — Skyline faces a tough task tonight when the Hawks take on Northwestern District foe Brentsville on the road.

One thing that really stands out for Skyline football coach Heath Gilbert watching film on Brentsville is their aggressiveness.

“You start with the defensive side and immediately they jump out at you with team speed, running to the ball,” Gilbert said. “I think it’s just the best team that we’ve seen on our schedule with just how fierce they are, relentless they are, to the football. So I was very impressed with that.”

Gilbert said he believes the Tigers’ front seven is the strength of their defense, but he said the secondary is solid, too.

“They do a good job whether they’re in man or zone (defense),” Gilbert said. “They’re not giving up many big plays, so we have to be sharp.”

Gilbert said Brentsville runs a few different offensive formations, including some wishbone. He said they like to use a lot of misdirection.

Gilbert said it will be very important for his defense to stay focused and have good fundamentals against the Tigers.

“This is one of those offenses that has given us trouble,” Gilbert said. “Some other times when you’re in an I (-formation) or a read option type of offense, misdirection isn’t as great, but their offense it is. And if we don’t take care of our technique and have our eyes where they need to be we can be out of position and there goes a trap for a 75-yard touchdown.”

The Hawks (4-4) are coming off a 41-25 win over William Monroe. Skyline held William Monroe to only 87 yards rushing.

Skyline linebacker Justin Jenkins said the defense is playing much better this season, and they just need to keep improving.

“Last year we didn’t stop the run nearly as good as we’re doing this year,” Jenkins said. “So it’s always exciting when we stop the run.”

The Tigers (2-6) like to run the football, and Gilbert said they have several different backs they can use and be effective.

Jenkins said he believes the Hawks stopping the Tigers’ running game will be a big key to getting a victory.

“We got to force them to pass the ball, because our secondary is good enough to stop that, too,” Jenkins said.

The Hawks had a very balanced attack in last week’s victory over William Monroe. The Hawks ran for 256 yards, including 110 in the fourth quarter, and had 240 passing yards.

Gilbert said getting the running game going is very important for the Hawks.

“Establishing the inside run is so key for our offense, because everything else can come off of it, with the read option, pulls or the play-action pass.” Gilbert said.

Brentsville is coming off a victory over Culpeper, which was previously undefeated in the Northwestern District.

The Hawks and the Tigers are battling for a playoff spot and seeding in the playoffs. Skyline is currently seeded fifth in Region 3B, while Brentsville is eighth. The top eight teams make the playoffs.

Gilbert said it’s obviously a big game for both teams.

“We have everything that we wanted to achieve in front of us,” Gilbert said. “So we have a lot to play for, but we have to prepare for it.”

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