Falcons, Generals ready for county showdown
For the second straight week Stonewall Jackson’s football team will be taking on a Shenandoah County rival as the Generals play at Central tonight at 7:30 p.m.
The Falcons are coming off a victory over Skyline, while the Generals are coming off a tough loss to Shenandoah County rival Strasburg.
“I expect them to play hard,” Central coach Mike Yew said of Stonewall Jackson. “Records mean nothing. It’s a county rivalry game. They’ll come out excited as will our kids and play a hard-nosed football game both ways.”
Stonewall Jackson coach Pete Lampman said that it’s tough having to play the two county rivals to open the season.
“Having two rivalry games at the beginning of the season is a tough go,” Lampman said. “But then again, it gets you excited to play. They’re two good football teams to get us ready for district play.”
One of the key match-ups in the game could be between Central’s offensive line and Stonewall Jackson’s defensive line.
The Generals sacked Strasburg six times last week in a 34-0 loss. Central ran the ball 47 times for 325 yards in a 48-13 win over Skyline.
The Generals are led on the defensive line by 6-foot-3, 290-pound Drew Binion and 6-foot-1, 291-pound Dakota Bush.
“It really is a challenge,” Bush said of Central’s offensive line. “We need to stop them. We need to show them we’re Stonewall Jackson football and we can do the same thing to them. We got size, but last week (Strasburg was) smaller than us. So we got to stay lower, hit them low and get to the ball and drive them off the ball.”
Lampman said the biggest key for his defense is to make tackles.
“The defensive line — I think were solid, but it’s still going to be a challenge,” Lampman said. “We just got to make sure that our linebackers step up and make tackles. We just didn’t tackle well last week.”
Central’s running game was led by junior Shane Watson, who had 22 carries for 153 yards.
Watson said his success all started with the play of his offensive line.
“They were pretty good,” Watson said. “Just seeing those holes was just perfect for me. I’d like to see them every game.”
Yew said that even though Watson had the bulk of the carries against Skyline, he still plans to divide the carries equally between Watson and Hunter Mullins, who had 10 carries for 61 yards.
Yew said Central’s defense will be tested against Stonewall’s Jackson offense.
The Generals run the triple option, and Yew said that means the Falcons will have to be disciplined on defense.
“You’ve really got to be responsible with each one of your assignments,” Yew said. “You can’t afford for one guy to take a play off or not do what he’s supposed to do. So we’ve got to preach assignments this week and everybody’s got to do their own job.”
Stonewall Jackson managed only 89 yards on offense last week, and Lampman said that his team just needs to make the right reads on the option.
He said he was happy with the progress the team had made learning the new offense, but felt they took a step back against Strasburg.
“Everything was there that we had been doing all summer, but for whatever reason we didn’t do it properly,” Lampman said. “Do we have the ability to do it properly? Yes, because I’ve seen us do it properly. I have seen it progress over the summer. And when we did it properly, we made the right read against Strasburg, we’re getting five, six yards a pop, going right down the field.”
Lampman said he doesn’t expect senior fullback/linebacker Jacob Murphy to play against Central. Murphy suffered a leg injury against Strasburg last week. Lampman said he is hopeful that Murphy will be able to return by next week.
For the Falcons, this is their first game against a Shenandoah County opponent and Yew said every county rivalry game is special.
Each year a Shenandoah County champion is crowned and awarded a trophy. Last year, Strasburg won the trophy, and Yew said winning the county title is important to the Falcons.
“It’s special. Every year we talk about our goals as being a county champion first, and district champion second,” Yew said. “You can’t be a county champion unless you win the first one. So we need to take care of business (tonight), and play a good sound football game against Stonewall Jackson.”