Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch Hurricane running back Christian Hill (28) attempts to break through a tackle attempt by a Spring Valley defender during a high school football game on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, at Spring Valley High School.

At the same time, though, the Redskins would like to solve the power outage that hit their passing game last season. That might revitalize their offense and take some pressure off the dependable Hill.

The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Hill has been a constant for Hurricane the past two seasons, averaging 24 carries for 138 yards over that period and rushing for 24 touchdowns, twice helping the Skins reach the Class AAA playoffs. During those 23 games, he ran for more than 100 yards 18 times and surpassed 200 yards thrice, with a career-best 257 yards against George Washington last year.

Hill also turned in a 100-yard game as a freshman, giving 19 such career games competing against a challenging Mountain State Athletic Conference schedule.

"It's always important to have that stability there,'' said Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor, who begins his eighth season. "He's a great running back - really one of the best we've had in the history of the school. He's tough. He doesn't come down easy. Even if you miss a block, he's going to run over somebody and make them miss. He's just consistent.''

A second-team All-State selection last year, Hill begins his senior season with 591 career carries for 3,273 yards and 26 TDs.

But to keep the Redskins afloat this season, Taylor realizes that his offense needs to complement Hill's slashes with some efficient passes. Last year, the Skins averaged merely 66 yards per game passing - their lowest by far in a decade.

In fact, prior to last year, Hurricane's starting quarterback had thrown for more than 1,100 yards going all the way back to 2008. Four times in that stretch, it was 2,200 yards or more in a season. But last year, Nathan Roy managed just 415 passing yards in 11 games and Austin Womack 289 as they shared the quarterbacking duties.

Roy has graduated and Womack has taken over under center, but Taylor knows he can't keep handing the ball to Hill 25-plus times to keep the offense moving.

"I hope that's all we need from him this year,'' Taylor said. "We have to find some more weapons.''

Taylor said Womack will be called upon to give the Skins a little more of a running threat at quarterback. The past two seasons, Hurricane's QBs had minus-145 yards rushing, owing to 35 quarterback sacks. And if Womack can get rid of the ball quickly, the Skins appear to have several capable receivers in Nate Barham, Chase Hager and Abel Cunningham.

"Womack should be able to mix it up a little bit,'' Taylor said. "He's pretty athletic and we can do some stuff running him out of the pocket. When he gets pressured, we want to throw short passes and get the ball in Nate's hands, in Chase Hager's hands and in Abel Cunningham's hands.

"With good pass protection, Womack should be around 16, 17 passes [per game]. Even if you throw it short, that's kind of a run, and 20 passes a game should be the limit. Two years ago we had a pretty dynamic offense, and it was about 16, 17 a game. Put it this way: If it's under 18, we're probably going to win and if it's over 18, we're probably closer to losing. That's true for the whole season.''

Waiting in the wings at quarterback is sophomore Ismael Borrero.

"He's definitely the future right now at the quarterback position,'' Taylor said. "He's athletic, and we'll try to get him on the field some.''

The speedy Barham displayed some game-breaking ability at South Charleston as a sophomore, catching 30 passes for 420 yards and four touchdowns, but he rarely saw any open field last season as Hurricane's air game deflated.

Barham caught just 12 passes for 144 yards a year ago with three TDs. He contributed heavily in the return game, however, bringing back 10 kickoffs for 328 yards and two touchdowns, both against Huntington on returns of 99 and 72 yards.

Hill can also provide a safety valve on screen passes. As a sophomore, he caught passes in eight different games, but that number dwindled last year to five total receptions for 40 yards.

Another possible receiving threat - and a big target - could be tight end Deacon Paivanas, a 6-2, 225-pound junior transfer from James River High in Buchanan, Virginia.


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