Rams, Generals ready for season opener

Adam Miller

Strasburg junior Adam Miller has never played quarterback, but tonight he will make his first-ever start at the position as the Rams travel to take on Stonewall Jackson in the season opener for both teams.

Miller, who found out he was starting on Wednesday, said that he’s a little nervous about taking the reins of Strasburg’s offense.

“I’m kind of nervous, but hopefully I’ll play well,” Miller said. “The toughest thing was just calling the plays in the huddle, just getting used to that. …It’s a good feeling, but it’s also kind of nerve-wracking because I have no clue what I’m going to do out there. I think I’ll be pretty solid out there.”

Strasburg coach Mark Roller had been looking at juniors Ethan Duckworth and Ryan Bowers at the position as well.

Roller said Duckworth is the backup and he expects him to take the starting spot at some point this season, and then they can move Miller back to running back.

Michael Knauff

“Right now we have to get [Duckworth] some confidence, and we just can’t put him out there right now without having the confidence that he needs to get,” Roller said. “But I foresee him being able to take over that spot for Adam and we can put Adam back at tailback.”

The Rams have more to worry about than just who will be the quarterback. The Generals had 36 players come out for the team this season under first-year head coach Jay Goode, and they have some renewed confidence.

The last two years they have had only one win each season, both coming in the final game to Page County. The players believe this year can be different.

“I was very impressed with what the team did this summer in the weight room, and he just brings a different attitude,” Stonewall Jackson’s Michael Knauff said of Goode. “I guess maybe it just comes from where he’s been, but it’s something that the guys really picked up quick and it’s definitely rubbed off on us.”

Goode, was an assistant coach at Glenvar for a number of years, including last year’s state championship team.

Goode said he knows that the Generals will have their work cut off for them in the season opener against Strasburg.

“They’re well coached,” Goode said. “They’ve got some good running backs. Their offensive line is solid, linebackers are pretty tough. They’ve got a good football team. We’ve got a good challenge ahead.”

Stonewall Jackson will also have a Miller at quarterback as senior Nathan Miller leads the team for the second straight year.

Nathan Miller threw for 148 yards last season, and many of his passes were to Knauff, who led the team with 13 receptions. Knauff said they developed a good bond last year and that has carried over so far this year.

“It’s something that I feel kind of happened pretty quickly, and it’s something that we definitely picked up pretty quickly,” Knauff said. “He knows where I’m going to be, and I know where he’s going to put the ball. We trust one another that we’re going to be able to get the ball down the field.”

The Rams lost a lot from last year’s squad, and Roller said the team is still trying to find its identity.

Strasburg’s Austin Schlentner, who led the Rams last season with four interceptions, said that the Rams definitely have some areas they need to improve on after a tough scrimmage last week against East Hardy.

“Executing, that’s a big thing, and just being crisp with our blocks and our routes,” Schlentner said. “Running to the football — that’s a huge thing — and just staying on it for all four quarters. That’s something that I think needs to be a big focus point, if not the biggest focus point this season — is just the hustle needs to be there.”

Being Shenandoah County rivals adds a little something more to the season opener for both teams.

“It’s good,” Schlentner said. “It never gets out of hand or ugly and that’s what you want in a rivalry. They’re right down the road. A lot of our players know their players really well. So it’s a good rivalry. It puts a lot on the game and the fans get into it more. When the fans are really into it you play better and you just feel like you really have to get on it.”

“In my time here I haven’t beaten Strasburg, and I can’t remember the last time we’ve beaten Strasburg in football,” Knauff said. “I want to go out with my senior year beating a team like Strasburg, knowing that we went out with a bang.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com