Football Preview - James Wood at Skyline

When: Today, 7 p.m.

Where: Skyline Hawk Stadium

Records: Skyline Hawks (2-4, 0-1 Northwestern District); James Wood Colonels (4-2, 0-1).

Last week: Skyline lost to Millbrook 59-14; James Wood lost to Sherando 14-10.

Last year: Skyline won 42-14.

Players to watch: Skyline — QB/FS Dylan Hamman, RB/CB Brad Halsey, WR/CB Jay Roy, LB/FB Keith Sanker. James Wood — WR/DBDillon Manuel; RB/LB Tyler Bishop; QB Dade Carroll; LB Ryan Funkhouser

Preview: Mark McHale has a big question up on the team’s bulletin board, “How hard are you going tp play this week?”

McHale got a supreme effort last week as his Colonels took the lead midway through the fourth quarter before falling to unbeaten Sherando, tied for the tip of the VHSL 4A West power ratings.

McHale is worried how his team will respond after exerting such a great effort, regardless of the outcome.

“I addressed that with them in our first meeting on Monday,” he said. “I said, ‘Men, it’s hard whether you win our lose to come back after playing that hard.’ That was a hard-hitting football game.”

Despite the loss, his team has remained upbeat at practice this week. After being dominated twice last season by Sherando, the Colonels stuck with them for 48 minutes last week.

“It boosted their confidence to play such a good football team that tough,” McHale said. “No one else has played them that tough all season.”

McHale was especially pleased with a defense that made a goal-line stand and held the Warriors well below their 32.2 season scoring average.

“We did some hitting,” McHale said. “We played our best defense this season.”

He’s hoping for more of that against Skyline.

The Hawks threatened twice early against Millbrook before the Pioneers blocked a field goal and returned it for a score. From there, Millbrook’s rushing attack was too much for Skyline.

The Hawks did get two touchdown passes from Dylan Hamman, who has 11 on the season.

“They’re a dangerous team because everybody thinks we’re supposed to beat them,” McHale said of Skyline, which has its Homecoming against the Colonels. “They’re a good team and they have dangerous players.”

The Colonels will be looking to get the rushing game back into high gear. Tyler Bishop leads the area with 1,170 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground.

The Colonels will be facing a defense that allowed 337 yards on the ground against Millbrook.

McHale says his team must play well against a team that thumped the Colonels last season.

“We can’t give them any momentum,” he said. “We’ve got to play like we did last week.

“We have to play good football, focus and stay away from penalties and allowing big plays.”

— Compiled by Walt Moody