Football camp notebook: Generals finding comfort in new offense

Stonewall Jackson head coach Jay Goode enters his second year as head football coach. Rich Cooley//Daily

QUICKSBURG – Jay Goode wasted little time making adjustments to his offensive scheme in his first season as Stonewall Jackson’s head football coach last fall.

Goode, a self-proclaimed fan of the Wing-T offense, installed that offense upon his arrival at his new school but by midseason was already working on phasing it out in favor of the multiple-I. It’s the latter offense that the Generals will open their 2016 season running, and the switch has drawn rave reviews from the players in preseason practice.

“It’s been great,” Generals senior running back Dylan Vann said last week. “We have more plays in right now than we have in the past by this time. We’ve been running them a lot better and coach puts them in as we’re learning the plays, so everything’s going over better. It’s a pretty smooth transition.”

Senior offensive lineman Chance Stroop credited the ease of that transition to the fact that it’s a scheme similar to what most of the Generals grew up learning in youth league under Bryan Murphy, who is also on Goode’s coaching staff as an assistant coach.

“He knows that all of us can do it because he’s been with us for 10 years,” Stroop said of Murphy. “He knows what we’re capable of doing.”

While struggling through its third consecutive 1-9 season in 2015, Stonewall mustered only 12.6 points per game, a number bolstered by a 51-24 win over Page County.

James Stunkle, a senior lineman, said it took the Generals’ front five “a good bit” of time to learn the playbook for the Wing-T last season. That hasn’t been the case this summer, he said.

“This year we’ve already got, I’d say, double or triple the plays now than we had last year at this point,” Stunkle said.

“We go from a lot of very complicated plays to a lot of easier plays for the linemen to understand. It’s more base blocking … and a lot of the pulls and the motions that we had last year.”

Senior receiver Tyler Patton agreed that the Generals’ offense – which will be quarterbacked by junior Brendan Hoover, who took over the role in the latter half of last season – has been expanded in 2016.

“Last year we only had like a couple plays and now we’ve got like a whole passing tree that we’re going through, we’ve got a whole lot more running plays,” Patton said. “I think we’re just going a lot faster.”

Strength in numbers:  For the second season in a row, Goode has enjoyed a solid turnout of players, as 70 student-athletes comprise Stonewall’s program this season – a number the head coach called “pretty daggone good” – including 37 at the varsity level. In 2014 the Generals began the season with just 24 varsity players.

Not only has the player turnout been solid, but Goode said team-oriented offseason workouts also drew a lot of participation.

“We started lifting right after Thanksgiving, like the first week in December, and that weight room was open all the way up til football started,” Goode said. “We went three days a week and except for snow days and Christmas we had that weight room open. … A lot of the kids, they’ve just gotten stronger. The weight room is really the key to it. I mean that offseason’s big and I think we had a pretty good offseason.”

Goode said there were points during the offseason when players were urging coaches to open the weight room at various times during the day in order to fit their workouts around their schedules.

“When kids text you in the summertime, like at 9 o’clock in the morning and say can you please open the weight room, … that says a lot because sometimes kids don’t wanna be in the weight room, but these kids did,” Goode said. “I’m proud of them about that.”

Room for improvement:  The Generals’ turnaround won’t happen overnight, and Goode said the team’s scrimmage against Pendleton County on Aug. 12 exposed some areas in need of improvement.

The head coach said the defensive secondary is one area in particular need of improvement, although he added that some of Pendleton’s scoring plays came on “botched” plays that would’ve drawn a pre-snap whistle had it been a regular contest.

“We’re kind of young there,” Goode said of the secondary. “Just let some receivers get behind us and everything. We’ve just gotta get better there. We just need to be better back there in our reads.”

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