Generals host longtime rival Page County in homecoming matchup
QUICKSBURG – Stonewall Jackson was run through the gauntlet over the last three weeks in a trio of games against Shenandoah District heavyweights Luray, Robert E. Lee and Riverheads. The playing field could be a little more even this week for the winless Generals.
Stonewall Jackson will celebrate homecoming with a district matchup at 7 p.m. Friday against longtime rival Page County, a team the Generals have traditionally had success against on the football field.
“That was a string,” Generals first-year head coach Pete Lampman said of his team’s previous three games. “… But Page has got a good football team, and they’ve won a couple games. They’re basically running something very similar to what we’re running, so it’s like a little bit of a mirror image with them. So I feel good. We came out of Riverheads healthy, we didn’t lose anybody. We’re getting a couple people back this week. I feel pretty good. I feel like we can be competitive, definitely.”
The Generals (0-6, 0-4 Shenandoah District) long dominated their head-to-head meetings against Page County (2-3, 0-3) before the Panthers flipped the script with a blowout win in Shenandoah in 2016.
Lampman, who was an assistant coach on Stonewall’s coaching staff last season, said turnovers doomed the Generals in that loss last season, which snapped a lengthy winning streak over Page County.
“We actually moved the ball. The first 20 minutes of that game we went up and down the field. We probably outgained them 2-to-1 but we turned the ball over two or three times and they scored on it,” he said. “Once again, they were a good team and once we turned the ball over and they scored a couple times … it just went south from there.”
Turnovers have plagued Stonewall’s triple-option offense over the last two games, as the Generals have given the ball away 11 times, including six turnovers in last week’s 59-7 loss at Riverheads.
The Generals will need to shore that up against a Page County defense – coached by former longtime Stonewall head coach Dick Krol, who works on head coach Joey Soltis’ staff – that “wants to hit people,” Lampman said.
The Panthers – who fell to Buffalo Gap 62-18 last week and have lost three straight Shenandoah District games since opening with back-to-back non-district wins over Rappahannock County and Nelson County – are giving up 45.3 points per game in district play.
“I think they’re a little more physical than us, to be honest with you,” Lampman said. “They really come after it. They tackle better than we do. I think overall probably (we match up better physically with Page County) a little bit, but I don’t know that we don’t match up physically with a lot of teams walking off the bus. It’s a mental issue. You’ve gotta wanna hit somebody. Page County will come out … and they’ll hit you. We need to step up to that level.”
That goes for both sides of the ball for Stonewall, which is allowing 57.5 points per game and has been susceptible to the big play.
Similarly to Stonewall, Page County runs a triple-option offense, though Lampman said the Panthers are more spread out, run their offense out of the shotgun formation and throw the ball more than the Generals do.
Page County scored 110 combined points in its first two games but put up 20, 8 and 18 points in losses to Stuarts Draft, East Rockingham and Gap.
Stonewall Jackson’s losing streak has now reached 22 straight games – the Generals’ last win came over Page County in 2015 – and Lampman is hoping to use the homecoming atmosphere to give the Generals some extra juice this week.
“I pushed it a lot,” Lampman said. “I mean there’s people coming back, your family, your friends. … You’ve got people coming back that graduated from years ago. I mean, you don’t wanna embarrass yourself in front of them. You wanna go out and make them proud. So I think they should use that as motivation, try to use I as motivation, definitely.”