Stonewall’s first football practice: Players, new head coach encouraged by first week
QUICKSBURG – Stonewall Jackson High School’s football team kicked off preseason practice on Monday under its third coach in the last four years, and new head General Pete Lampman feels all signs are pointing in the right direction for a program hungry for success.
Lampman, who replaced former head coach Jay Goode after serving as an assistant coach with Stonewall in 2016, said Thursday that the first step in changing the Generals’ football culture was setting new expectations over the summer. He added that he’s been pleased with what he’s seen out of his team as that energy spilled over into the first four days of preseason camp.
“The tempo’s been good. The attitude’s been fantastic. Their work ethic’s been real good,” Lampman said. “We had about 30 guys all summer that really came and worked out. We’re trying to change the culture, as you can imagine, and I think it’s beginning to take. The seniors seem to be taking over and really pushing themselves.”
Stonewall Jackson, which went 0-10 last fall and has won just five games over the last five seasons, enters the year with about 57 total student-athletes in its football program, Lampman said, including about 32 on the varsity team.
Of those 32 varsity players, about 14 of them are seniors, Lampman added. Two of those seniors, quarterback/defensive back Brendan Hoover and center/defensive tackle Drew Binion, praised the effort of their new head coach on Thursday.
“He’s done a good job,” Hoover said. “He has a really good understanding. He comes out here, he has a set schedule. He knows what he’s doing and we all go through practice very smoothly.
“We’re excited with the new culture he’s setting. Coming in here, it’s good for the young guys and building them up. He should be good.”
An attitude change isn’t the only thing Lampman is bringing to Stonewall in his new role. The Generals have been working on re-implementing a triple-option offense similar to the one they ran in 2014.
Lampman said the first week of practice has been spent primarily on the basic techniques of blocking, handoffs and ball carrying as the Generals get reacquainted with the new offense after spending the last two seasons running the Wing-T and multiple-I sets.
“The first week is making sure all our fundamentals are down, we know what the plays are, we know how to execute them,” Lampman said. “We’ve cut down on the number (plays). I like the KISS method, keep it simple, stupid. Keep it simple, not a lot of thinking, just a lot of reacting.”
In terms of varsity experience, Stonewall is “pretty good,” according to Lampman, who added that most of the players on this year’s roster got playing experience in some capacity last season, although the team is somewhat lacking in roster depth. He added that he’s encouraged by the fact that many of the current seniors were introduced to the triple-option offense as freshmen three years ago.
Stonewall has three weeks before kicking off the 2017 season with a home game against Shenandoah County rival Strasburg on Aug. 25, and has scrimmages scheduled at Pendleton County (Aug. 12) and at home against Nelson County (Aug. 17) during that span.
Lampman said the Generals’ ability to improve on a regular basis, throughout the rest of the preseason and into the regular season, will determine the success of 2017.
“I just wanna see us get better in what we’re doing incrementally. I want us to tackle well. I want us to block well. This is gonna sound cliché – I want us to run the ball and catch the ball and throw the ball,” Lampman said with a laugh. “I just wanna see us get better. And that is our goal. I mean we have some goals for the season – we wanna win our first game, we wanna win the county championship, we wanna make the playoffs – but we wanna get better each week. We need to progress. If we keep progressing every week and getting better every week, then the season’s been a success.”