Brad Fauber - email@example.com
With one week of the high school football season in the books, Central and Stonewall Jackson find themselves at opposite ends of the spectrum heading into their showdown tonight in Quicksburg.
Stonewall Jackson comes in fresh off a 40-21 loss at the hands of Strasburg last week in a game that featured five Generals turnovers and inconsistent play from Stonewall Jackson on both sides of the ball.
Central, on the other hand, is flying high after a 20-14 non-district victory over a Broadway team that made it to the Group AA state semifinals last season. The win has given the Falcons an early boost of confidence, but Central is not looking past tonight's game against its county rival.
"We always know it's going to be physical against Stonewall," said Falcons junior quarterback Hayden Bauserman. "Last year we kind of underestimated them and they came out on our field and beat us. Coming off the big win on Friday, we know we can't underestimate this team no matter what."
Stonewall Jackson (0-1) has had to start at square one in practice this week after Strasburg exploited the Generals' youth and inexperience last Friday. Stonewall Jackson coach Dick Krol said the intensity has been high in drills this week, but he is still seeing the side effects of the Generals' youth.
"Practice hasn't been bad this week, but again, we just make so many mistakes," Krol said. "We're just not producing what we need to produce to be competitive."
Stonewall Jackson surrendered 333 yards on the ground last Friday, but will be facing a much different offense against Central.
The Falcons (1-0) found success throwing the football against Broadway, and Bauserman finished with 231 yards on 15 of 37 passing and a pair of touchdowns.
Bauserman was suffering from a sore back earlier this week after taking a hit against Broadway, but the junior said he will be ready to go come game time.
Central's aerial attack poses a serious threat to Stonewall Jackson's undersized defensive secondary, but Falcons coach Mike Yew said his team is prepared to go to the ground if needed.
"We will do whatever we feel like Stonewall's going to give us the best opportunity to do," Yew said. "If they're going to drop seven, eight, nine [players] in the box then we will sling it. If they sit back a little bit, we'll probably run. We'll let what they do dictate."
Central's defense played well last Friday, holding Broadway to just 19 yards rushing on 25 carries. The Falcons will have to be on their toes once again this week against the Stonewall Jackson triple-option attack.
"The way Stonewall runs the ball and the way Broadway runs the ball are two very different styles," Yew said. "But our kids should be excited about the performance they had [last Friday], and they should be excited about doing it again."
The Generals' offense struggled to get going in its season-opener, amassing just 255 total yards, nearly half of which came in the fourth quarter against Strasburg's second-string defense. Much of the struggles can be attributed to Stonewall Jackson's lack of experience along the offensive line, and the rate at which the Generals can improve in that department will be key moving forward.
Stonewall Jackson senior Anthony Peacher said the Generals are extra motivated after the meltdown last week.
"We really got down on ourselves last week, but this week we've really come back," Peacher said. "Most of us have focused a lot more in practice. I know I have, because I've seen what not focusing in practice does."
Tonight marks the first home game of the season for Stonewall Jackson, and Yew has no doubt that the Generals will come out ready to fight.
"The biggest thing we've been talking about all week is no letdowns," Yew said. "Stonewall is going to come in absolutely ready to play. It is a county rival, it's their first home game -- all those factors are going to equate to them being excited. It's going to be a very physical game."