By Tommy Keeler Jr.
QUICKSBURG -- In last week's scrimmage against Pendleton County (W.Va.) something unusual happened -- one of the Generals had three catches during the game.
Junior Michael Knauff had three receptions, and Stonewall Jackson head coach Dick Krol said he was very pleased.
"We finally have a kid that can catch the football, and for us that's an unusual situation," Krol said. "Michael Knauff has really worked hard. He's done really well. He has great hands. There were a couple passes that he really had to work for. He's worked hard over the summer. He's worked hard in the weight room. He's done everything we can ask of him. He's catching the football. That's an added bonus that we're not used to."
Throwing the passes to Knauff this year will be junior Nathan Miller, who was the backup to Daniel Buhl last year.
Krol said he's been very pleased with what he's seen from Miller so far this season.
"He's doing well," Krol said of Miller. "At times he can be his own worst enemy. He has a tendency to get down if he makes a mistake. When you're a quarterback you have two opportunities to make mistakes, you just got to forget them. I made a mistake and go on about your business, do it right the next time. And if he can get to that point, we'll be OK.
"His fundamentals are sound. He's throwing the ball well. He knows the offense. It's just a matter of him settling down and relaxing and realizing that mistakes happen. Everybody makes mistakes -- just don't get down on yourself about it."
LINE PLAY: The key to Stonewall Jackson's offense this season may revolve around the play of its offensive line.
The Generals have only two starters back from last year's offensive line -- Phillip Mallow and Jacob Helsley -- and how the group meshes together will be important for the Generals' success on offense.
"We've got kids that have to understand that they're not studs," Krol said of the offensive line. "They have to learn to play at their size, and for their size, and they'll be OK. You go in the weight room, you bench press 125 pounds, you think you're a stud. You got to learn to play for your size."
The younger, inexperienced players on the offensive line will have a good leader to look up to in senior tackle Phillip Mallow.
"He's been with us five years. He started out as a very quiet, reclusive sort of kid -- never said much, never did much. A little awkward and he's worked and worked and worked, gone into the weight room," Krol said of Mallow. "Last year he ran track and that helped him as far as his speed and his footwork. And this year he's just come out and his technique is better, his drive is better, his attitude is better. His attitude has never been bad, but he understands now that he can play this game. He's just been great."
24 IS ENOUGH: The Generals have 24 players on the roster now, and Krol feels good that if they can stay healthy that will be enough to get them through the season.
Stonewall Jackson finished last season with just 23 players.
"The year's been unique and things have happened that we've never had happen before," Krol said. "So we'll just take it day by day and see what happens."
Krol said he doesn't have any real expectations as far as wins and losses, but he was happy with how the team played in the scrimmage against Pendleton County.
"We didn't really lose anybody to injury, which was a very big positive for us," Krol said. "We did some good stuff, we did some bad stuff. At least on film now we can show what we did and didn't do. Hopefully, by Thursday [a scrimmage against Parry McCluer and Nelson County] we'll clean up some of the bad stuff, and if we can stay healthy. That's the biggest thing."
The Generals almost had to cancel the season after the first day due to insufficient numbers. Krol said he feels much better now than he did that first week.
"It's nice to wake up in the morning and come to practice and see 24 kids," Krol said.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd