Generals kick off district slate in home game vs. Wilson

Stonewall's Logan Ritchie runs outside as the Central defense pursues during a game in Woodstock on Sept. 1. Rich Cooley/Daily

QUICKSBURG – Stonewall Jackson High School’s football losing streak has reached 18 games after back-to-back losses to county rivals to start the 2017 season. The Generals now enter their Shenandoah District slate hungrily seeking their first victory since 2015.

Stonewall hosts Wilson Memorial in a 7 p.m. matchup tonight coming off what first-year head coach Pete Lampman called one of the Generals’ better weeks of practice over the young season.

“We really want a win,” Generals’ senior quarterback Brendan Hoover said after practice Wednesday evening. “First district game, it’d be nice to start out 1-0, be at the top of the district. We’re just really excited to come out here Friday and play hard. The first two games didn’t go the way we wanted or that we expected. We’ve just gotta come out stronger, ready to hit them. We’ve gotta hit them first, keep going. We can’t let them dictate the game. We have to be the ones that dictate it.”

The Generals (0-2) have struggled to remain competitive so far in 2017 while injuries have already started taking their toll. They have been outscored 98-7 through the first two weeks of the season while averaging less than 100 yards of offense per game.

Stonewall, which has re-implemented the triple-option offense this year under Lampman, has fumbled 11 times already and is averaging only 48.5 yards rushing per contest. The Generals’ offensive cohesion has taken a hit with an injury to starting fullback Jacob Murphy – the team’s leading rusher last season – though Stonewall’s struggles run much deeper.

“We’ve gotta block the right people,” Generals junior running back Logan Ritchie said, “get some push on the line and the backs have gotta read the holes right. Just gotta make all the right reads.”

For Wilson Memorial (0-1), which had a bye in Week 1, Friday marks the second straight game in which the Green Hornets will be tasked with defending the triple-option. Wilson saw that same offense in its 40-27 loss to Waynesboro last week.

“It’s fortunate that we get to see how they play against (the triple-option) but unfortunately they get another week – sometimes it’s hard to prepare for the triple-option,” Lampman said. “… Now we play a little bit differently than Waynesboro. For me it was good, I’m glad to see how they played against it. I’m sure they’ll make a couple changes.”

Today’s matchup figures to feature plenty of the ground game, as Wilson – which has won just seven games over the last two seasons after playing for a state title in 2014 – operates out of an offense that Lampman said shows elements of double-wing power plays and the wing-T.

Hornets senior running back Eddie Harris went down with an ankle injury in last week’s loss, but Colton Tyree rushed for over 100 yards in his absence.

Lampman noted Wilson Memorial’s aggressiveness and ability to shoot off the ball up front on offense, adding that the key for Stonewall’s defense would be “staying low and being aggressive.”

“Really that’s all you can do. That’s pure power football and so you’ve gotta be more powerful than them,” Lampman said. “That means staying low, not letting them get off the ball, and tackling. You’ve gotta tackle.”

Despite Stonewall Jackson’s continued struggles, Lampman said the Generals’ attitude remains good and that the emphasis in practice has been on remaining focused as the team transitions into district play.

“All our goals are ahead of us and all you really gotta do is stay focused and keep working hard,” Lampman said. “They’ve worked hard all summer and at some point in this season, I don’t know when it’s gonna be, we’re gonna turn a corner and we’re gonna be a decent football team. They’ve worked too hard over the summer and in the course of the season so far for it not to happen.”