FRONT ROYAL – Tyson Funk and Aidan Vaught have been great leaders for Skyline’s football program.
Funk, a senior, and Vaught, a junior, will be two of the key elements to the Hawks’ success on the football field this season.
“How much they’ve been willing to give to prepare for the season, and the example they’ve set in the offseason has been really good,” Skyline head football coach Heath Gilbert said. “Just to have that standard all offseason, whether it was in the weight room, 7-on-7, extra activities we could do (Frisby’s Agility, Speed and Strength Training) or whatever, they are always there to be leaders who served as an example to us.”
Funk and Vaught also help each other on the football field.
As a sophomore, Funk played quarterback for the varsity junior team, but last year he switched to wide receiver.
Due to injuries, Funk had to replace the quarterback a bit last year. This season, Funk is happy to be back at wide receiver while Vaught takes over at quarterback. Funk said he was trying to help Vaught, who has been the team’s top running back for the past two seasons.
“I helped him a lot,” Funk said. “Trying to teach him to do different things like his footwork and everything. Trying to teach him to follow his progressions if his receivers aren’t open. And I really think I’ve helped him a lot.”
Funk said he preferred to play wide receiver.
“It’s a lot easier,” Funk said. “I don’t need to know what everyone is doing on the pitch all the time. I don’t need to control everyone. I just have to worry about myself and beat the DB.”
Vaught said Funk served him well as he learned the ropes of the quarterback trade. Vaught said he was learning to enjoy his new position.
“I like it,” Vaught said. “It’s not as bad as I thought. I just need to be more focused, make sure I know what everyone else is doing, not just myself.”
Last season, Vaught threw 15 passes, completing eight for 97 yards. He rushed for 948 yards on 142 carries and had 13 scores. He also caught 19 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns. In his freshman season, a season shortened by COVID-19, Vaught ran for 170 yards on 21 carries and had 10 receptions for 132 yards and two scores.
Funk went 6 for 9 last season for 123 yards and threw for two touchdowns. He also caught five catches for 60 yards and a touchdown. As a sophomore, Funk threw for 87 yards and a touchdown on 3 of 7 passes.
Funk said he loves playing for Skyline and his favorite part of the game is being played on Friday nights in front of the fans.
“I love the environment – the Friday night lights with the crowd,” Funk said. “I love how they get so hyped and they make us hyped. I love it. It’s amazing. Nothing can beat that.”
Funk said he was excited for this season as a senior.
“I worked a lot over the last five or six years for this season, in particular,” Funk said. “I really think my hard work has paid off, and I’m just ready for this upcoming season.”
Gilbert said Funk is a good leader by example for the whole team.
“Tyson does a great job with the example,” Gilbert said. “His work ethic and the way he’s willing to go out there and push himself. So I think that’s great.”
Vaught set up two great seasons for the Hawks in the backfield, and Gilbert said he thinks he’ll have another solid season at quarterback.
“It’s going to be really exciting to see what he can bring to the attack in the air and on the ground,” Gilbert said. “I think he proved he can throw the ball out of the pocket. All the 7v7 stuff was so good for him. Everyone knows when you’re 7v7 you’re going to throw it. So (during the season) he could run it, he could throw it in. This unknown is going to be something for the defenses to deal with for sure.
Vaught said being able to kick the ball in the team’s 7-on-7 practices has helped him prepare for the season.
“It was really fun to go 7v7 this year,” Vaught said. “They’ve all improved a lot since 7v7.”
Gilbert said Vaught is probably the best quarterback his program has ever had.
Gilbert said the biggest key for Vaught is not putting himself down if he makes a mistake.
“(Quarterbacks) have to make good decisions, and he has to be okay with things that maybe don’t always go perfectly,” Gilbert said. “And he’s a perfectionist. He wants to be perfect all the time, but he really doesn’t have to fight. And understand that I’m going to move on to the next game, and that his coaches and his team believe in him. And know that he works to be the best he can be.”
Gilbert said Vaught is also a great leader for the team – vocally and by example.
The Hawks open their season Friday in Strasbourg.
Funk said injuries hurt the team last year, but he thinks this year’s team can be more successful.
“I feel amazing about this team,” Funk said. “I think we could be 7-3, 8-2 if all goes well, everyone is playing their best.”