Football Preview 2016: Colonels in rebuilding mode under new coach

Massanutten Military Academy's football team run sprints during a recent practice on their football field.  Rich Cooley/Daily

Massanutten Military Academy's football team run sprints during a recent practice on their football field. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – There’s not really any way for first-year coach Pete Stone to sugarcoat the state of Massanutten Military Academy’s football program.

After a winless 2015 season, the second for the program in three years, and playing for their third different head coach in as many seasons, the Colonels are essentially laying a new foundation.

“We’re rebuilding,” Stone said during MMA’s practice this week. “There’s no other way to put any more lipstick on it than that.”

Last season, under one-and-done head coach Buster Davis, the Colonels suffered through an 0-10 season and their third straight winless campaign against Patriot Conference competition.

Stone said on Aug. 17 that he expected anywhere from 25 to 30 players on this season’s roster – most didn’t arrive on campus until Aug. 20 – and most of those would be new to the school and/or the football program.

The first-year coach, who spent the last three years as the head football coach at Lubbock Christian High School in Texas, said he’s received good cooperation from the players who reported for the first week of camp.

“These kids are really buying in and working hard,” said Stone, who grew up in Waynesboro and graduated from Stuarts Draft High School. “I don’t have to spend a lot of time telling them not to jack around, which obviously increases your practice time. So far I’ve been really happy with the senior leadership we have.”

Stone said he is installing the flexbone, triple-option offense at MMA, a scheme he implemented during his head coaching tenure in Lubbock.

“We do it for the same reason the service academies do it, we’re gonna be small up front,” Stone said.

Last season, the Colonels averaged just 4.6 points in games in which they competed (MMA forfeited a matchup against powerhouse Roanoke Catholic) and were shut out five times. Only once, in a 26-18 loss to Victory Christian Academy, did MMA keep the final score to a one-possession game.

Stone said the key to successfully running the flexbone lies in the capabilities of the quarterback.

“You’ve gotta have a quarterback that can make reads, pre-snap and during the play, and change plays when necessary,” said Stone, who declined to disclose who would take the snaps for the Colonels this fall.

Defensively the Colonels will work out of a 4-2-5 base.

“That’s not scientific either – I’ve got more fives than I’ve got fours and twos,” Stone said, referring to defensive backs, linemen and linebackers, respectively. “We’ve got some kids that run pretty well, so we should be able to get to the ball and do some good things.”

MMA allowed 49.6 points per game in 2015 and surrendered over 50 points four times. Stone said he’s gone back to the basics of playing defense by preaching the importance of lining up correctly, getting to the ball and making the tackle.

“What I’ve seen on film last year, we weren’t good tacklers, so we’ll spend a lot of time working on tackling fundamentals,” Stone said. “We have a chance to be pretty good defensively.”

The Colonels begin their 2016 season at 6 p.m. Friday with a road game at Quantico.

“My goal really, and this sounds cliché, is to be competitive, and you know, get the kids fundamentally to where they can enjoy the game,” Stone said. “Once we do that wins will come.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com

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