Flint Hill player Ellison

Justice Ellison is a key returner for the Flint Hill Huskies this season. (File Photo by Deb Kolt)

With a new head coach and many highly-productive starters having graduated, the prospects for another strong football season might seem in question for the two-time defending state champion Flint Hill Huskies.

That’s not necessarily the case.

Jason Thomas takes over as the new coach of the private highschool team, and his resume is accomplished. He coached Burr and Burton Academy in Vermont to private-school state championships in 2015 and 2018.

In addition, Flint Hill does have a few significant returners who played big roles on offense and defense and were very productive on Flint Hill’s 11-0 Division I state-title teams in 2017 and 2018. Among them are Zach Garcia, Justice Ellison, Jaylin Hertz, James Shumway and Ellijah Wasson. All will play even bigger roles this season.

“The cupboard was not left dry for a new coach, and I appreciate that. I like our prospects,” Thomas said. “We have talent, some good athletes and players who have been waiting in the wings for a chance to play. We have to stay healthy, and it’s a matter of getting everyone on the same page. This team will get better as the season goes on.”

Flint Hill opens play on the road nearby in Fairfax on Friday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. against Paul VI Catholic. That is one of three straight road games to start the campaign.

Thomas has kept similar defensive schemes and terminology to what former coach Tom Verbanic ran. The offense will be brand new for the Huskies, as Thomas runs a no-huddle, one-back spread set.

Running the offense will be junior quarterback Alex Ballinger, a transfer student. Hertz will be the tailback along with Bryson Robertson. Garcia, Ellison, Shumway, Wasson, Marquis Roberts and Jaiden Babcok are wide receivers or slots. Darius Keck is a tight end. Top linemen returning on offense with experience are Logan Copeland, Danny Stone, Dyan Logue, Nick Hendrix and Brian Scherer. Many of those will play on defense as well at various positions.

NOTE: One valued Flint Hill assistant returning to the staff is longtime line coach Pete Salvano. He worked with Verbanic during his tenures at Flint Hill and Westfield and is a former Marshall High head coach. “He’s a fantastic coach and a huge help,” Thomas said.

SCHEDULE: Friday, Sept. 6 at Paul VI Catholic, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 14 at St. James, 2; Friday, Sept. 20 at Collegiate, 4; Saturday, Sept. vs. Benedictine, 1; Saturday, Oct. 5 vs. Sidwell Friends, 2; Saturday, Oct. 12 at St. Christopher’s, 1; Saturday, Oct. 19 vs. Maret, 3; Saturday, Oct. 26 vs. Life Christian Academy, 1; Saturday, Nov. 2, vs. Potomac School, 2:30.

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