By Jeff Nations -- firstname.lastname@example.org
QUICKSBURG -- It looked as if Stonewall Jackson might have been unveiling a daring new color scheme when the Generals captains headed to midfield for the pre-game handshake and coin toss.
On Senior Night, the Generals' veteran players all earned the honor to trot out to the 50-yard line. Sprinkled significantly into that gaggle of red and white uniforms was the color blue, specifically in the pants four of those seniors were wearing. Dylan Dawson, Jordan Laughlin, Matthew Deavers and Colton Leitzel -- starters, one and all -- hobbled out among the rest of the senior group, and all four sported the dreaded blue-jean look that signifies injuries.
It was indeed an evil portent for Stonewall, as the depleted Generals eventually wore down against the Bison in a 19-0 loss on Friday night.
"It was a good, solid game which is what we expect when it's us against Buffalo Gap," Stonewall Jackson coach Dick Krol said. "We made some mistakes, we're a little short-handed -- some of the young kids stepped forward and did a good job."
Krol said those four injured seniors alone -- all injured in last week's game against Riverheads -- represented eight starters out of the lineup, and they weren't the only Generals out of uniform against Buffalo Gap (6-3). That lack of personnel forced Stonewall to become a bit creative in filling those spots, and Krol saw enough positive production from some of those fresh faces to consider keeping a couple out there even if his team does get closer to full strength next week.
The Bison threatened to make it a long night for Stonewall early, as Buffalo Gap marched straight down the field on the game's opening possession to punch in a touchdown. Bruising fullback Logan Huff (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) capped the eight-play, 58-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. The Generals would see much of Huff and his backfield mate Phillip Smith, who combined for 39 carries and 171 yards.
"He's tough, we knew coming in, but we didn't address him as well as we should've," Krol said of Huff. "We had some people at linebacker that hadn't been playing, and were a little hesitant. Heck, if I were playing at linebacker trying to tackle a kid that big, I'd be hesitant, too, especially when we're as small as we are. But basically, we did OK."
On their ensuing possession, the Generals unveiled one of their newest acquisitions when freshman Jared Getz, just up from the junior varsity squad, ripped off an 11-yard run to open the drive. Stonewall Jackson (2-7) moved from their own 34-yard line down to the Bison 29 before that march stalled, and the Generals never got closer to the end zone the rest of the night.
Buffalo Gap, which still entertains hopes of earning a playoff spot, found the going a little tougher after that first impressive drive. Another first-quarter march down the field ground to a halt at Stonewall's 3-yard line when the Generals' Tyler Laughlin stuffed Campbell for a 1-yard gain on fourth-and-goal. Stonewall's John Quinlan splattered another potential drive late in the second quarter with a sack that cost the Bison 12 yards on third down and helped keep the Generals within a touchdown at halftime.
"Our first drive was very good," Buffalo Gap coach Rob Maxwell said. "We got bogged down a little bit later on -- Stonewall changed some things on us with different fronts. We didn't get everything picked up, we didn't get everyone taken care of. But we played well enough to win the ballgame, and that was the most important thing."
Krol had few complaints about his team's effort, especially on defense.
"As long as we hit, I'm a happy camper," Krol said. "And we did hit some people."
The Generals fumbled away their first two possessions of the second half, and the second one cost them when Buffalo Gap's Preston Woods fell on the loose ball at his own 35. The Bison responded with a punishing 16-play drive that ended with Campbell's 7-yard touchdown run on fourth down that put his team up 13-0 with 11:55 to play.
Another Stonewall turnover led to more Bison points when Matt Gregory intercepted John-Michael Pirtle's pass attempt deep in Generals territory. Gregory finished the ensuing drive off by hauling in a 32-yard scoring strike from Tyler Campbell.
"Our kids stepped up and played," Maxwell said. "These folks just come right out after you, and we responded. The kids played hard."
Getz finished with 72 rushing yards to lead the Generals, who managed only 110 yards of total offense.
"He's quick," Krol said of Getz. "He's got a future. We're going to see him for three more years."