James Wood set for another battle with Skyline

Todd Wilson hasn’t been around the area for long, but he’s pretty sure he recognizes when two programs look forward to scrapping with each other.
He says it’s certainly that way for his Colonels and Skyline. The two squads will square off for the second consecutive season at Kelican Stadium at 7 p.m., on Friday.
“Both teams get up for this game,” said Wilson, who was an offensive line coach for four seasons at James Wood before taking over as head coach this year. “I’ve only been here for a handful of years, but I know Skyline and James Wood typically are both fired up for this game. … I know Skyline will be coming in prepared and I know our kids will be excited as well to be playing here before our home crowd.”
Last season, the Colonels’ faithful went home disappointed after a 21-20 loss. In that contest, the Colonels elected to go for a two-point conversion after a tie-breaking TD in the fourth quarter because their top two holders were injured at the time. Then Skyline’s Aidan Vaught took over, rushing for 61 yards in an 81-yard game-winning drive. The Skyline victory snapped the Colonels’ four-game win streak in the series.
“It was disappointing, obviously,” Wilson said. “Things happen. We lost by one point. Our holder cramps and we don’t get that extra point. That hurt us there at the end and really the second half we had trouble tackling Aidan.”
The bad news is that Vaught is back for his senior season. Instead of playing quarterback like he did last fall, Vaught has returned to running back. Vaught, who rushed for 1,408 yards and 13 TDs last season, opened with 18 carries for 133 yards and two touchdowns in an 18-16 loss to Strasburg. His scores came on runs of 20 and 44 yards.
While Nick Mrad is the new Skyline quarterback, Wilson says Vaught will take snaps when the team uses its version of the Wildcat formation. “They move him around, but when things get down to it No. 4 is going to have the ball in his hands,” he said.
And that could be a problem coming off the Colonels’ 41-7 loss at Brentsville last week. Nico Orlando rushed for three first-half touchdowns as the Tigers’ built a 34-0 halftime lead.
“It’s a little worrisome with the way we tackled in the first half last week that we have to go up against another hard runner,” Wilson said. “We’re just going to have do a whole lot better tackling [Vaught].”
Defensively, Wilson said he has been impressed by the Hawks’ Garrett Mohr, senior, and Adrian Schmitz, a freshman.
He expects to see something a little differently than Heath Gilbert has played against teams, like Strasburg, that are quite different offensively than the Colonels.
“What we’ve seen defensively by them is probably exactly what we’re going to see,” Wilson said. “We’ve seen them run some 3-3 stuff and a 40 front. We’re prepared for both of those defenses.”
James Wood (1-1) goes into the contest averaging just 10.5 points per contest.
Running back Elijah Richards didn’t have many holes last week against the Brentsville defense and the Colonels hurt themselves with holding penalties.
“We have to do better up front and get the run game going,” Wilson said. “They slowed us down last week running the ball. At times we moved the ball well and then something would happen where we got a negative play and it was hard to bounce back. … Trying to stay ahead of the chains is the biggest thing.”
Wilson said the focus this week at practice has been more about the Colonels than Skyline.
“It’s a lot about ourselves — just maturing,” he said. “It’s the same type of stuff — alignment, assignment, stressing the importance of tackling. We counted up how many missed tackles we had in the backfield and we could have several of those for losses. Instead, several of those missed tackles went for 15 or 20 yards. That adds up.”
And to pull out the win, he believes his team has to play cleaner.
“Eliminate mistakes is the biggest thing,” Wilson said. “Bad opportunities or bad timing, we’re just hurting ourselves. … We just have to play a clean game. If we play a clean game, I think we’re competing with a lot of teams that on paper look like they should beat us pretty handily. If we do our job and play a clean game, I think we can play with anybody on our schedule.”
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