Generals seeking improvement in home tilt against East Rock

Pete Lampman

QUICKSBURG – Stonewall Jackson High School’s football team has made a few positional changes and could get as many as three starters back this week, and the Generals hope that leads to some improvement on the football field on Friday night.

Stonewall head coach Pete Lampman said Monday his team saw a little bit of that improvement in the second half of last week’s loss to Stuarts Draft. The Generals continue their trek against Shenandoah District competition with a 7 p.m. home game against East Rockingham.

The Generals (0-8, 0-6 Shenandoah District) have struggled to remain competitive this season – their losing streak has reached 24 straight games – and they host an Eagles (5-2, 3-2) squad that has won three straight, including a 24-21 overtime victory over Buffalo Gap last week.

“They’re playing well and confident,” Lampman said of East Rockingham. “Good football team, athletic as always. They run a lot of different things (offensively). They’ll run a wing, they’ll run a spread, so a little difficult to prepare for. You’ve just gotta kind of be general and see what … what their game plan is against you.”

East Rockingham bounces back and forth between a power running game – with elements of the double- and single-wing – and a spread offense, said Lampman, who added that the Eagles, who average 25.6 points per game, appear to be running more formations than they did last season after graduation losses at quarterback and receiver.

In last week’s win over Gap, East Rockingham junior running back J’wan Evans was the offense’s workhorse, rushing for nearly 200 yards and three touchdowns.

“They ran a little more than they have been,” Lampman said of the Eagles’ game against Gap. “But against Stuarts Draft they did it and something’s clicked for them there, so they’re doing it more often now than they did. He’s a good running back and they’re gonna come off the ball and hit you, much like the rest of the district.”

Stonewall’s struggles with tackling continued against Draft, as the Cougars scored touchdowns on their first four offensive snaps en route to the 42-10 win, and the Generals are giving up 54.4 points per game.

Stonewall should benefit from the return of junior fullback/linebacker Udreka Claude, who served a one-game suspension after being ejected from the game against Page County two weeks ago. Lampman said the Generals could also see the return of junior lineman/linebacker Charles Streett V and senior two-way lineman Josh Lantz from injury this week.

Lampman added that the Generals’ offense, which has moved the ball at times but has been bitten by turnovers, would be run by freshman quarterback Austin Ritchie for the second straight game. Ritchie took over the reins last week from senior Brendan Hoover, who has moved to wing back in Stonewall’s triple-option offense.

Ritchie started at quarterback against Stuarts Draft and rushed 12 times for 36 yards and completed 5 of 11 passes for 21 yards, and Lampman said he would be the Generals’ starter going forward.

“He’s probably not as athletic at the moment or as experienced at the moment, but I think he reads the option a little bit better than Brendan,” Lampman said of the freshman. “And Brendan gives us an added weapon on the wing with his athleticism, his ability to run the ball without having to make that read on the option.”

East Rockingham is allowing 21.7 points per game and has given up 28 points or more in three of its seven games this season.

Lampman said the Eagles have shown a 4-3 base defensively against most opponents, but he expects East Rock to load the box, as other teams have done, against Stonewall.

“They’re athletic and they’ll tackle you,” Lampman said. “… I imagine they’ll try to take away the fullback because that’s what we’ve been most successful at.”