Generals looking to take advantage of playoff opportunity

Brendan Hoover

QUICKSBURG — Stonewall Jackson has been given a second chance and the Generals are looking to make the most of it.

The Generals will travel to Altavista for a Class 1, Region 1B football playoff quarterfinal at 7 tonight. There are only six teams in Region 1B eligible for the Virginia High School League playoffs, so Stonewall Jackson was awarded a playoff berth, despite an 0-10 record.

“We’re 0-10, let’s be honest,” Stonewall Jackson coach Pete Lampman said. “Do we deserve to be in the playoffs? Probably not. And I told (the players) that. But I said you know what, it’s not our rules. We need to play by the rules we’re given. So we’re going to play the ball game. It gives us at least one extra week of practice, gives the younger guys another week. You almost treat it like a (college football) bowl game.”

Stonewall Jackson senior Brendan Hoover said the team is excited to play in the playoffs.

“We’re excited to have this second chance,” Hoover said. “Everybody’s been fired up during practice, hitting harder, a little more excited for this game. We just want to come out and play hard and come away with a win. Even if we just get one win it would be a win. It would be something to build on.”

Pete Lampman

The Generals have lost 26 straight games, but Lampman said Stonewall Jackson had the hardest schedule in all of Class 1. The Generals played seven playoff teams this season, and played only one other Class 1 team — defending Class 1 state champion Riverheads. The Generals other nine opponents were Class 2 teams.

Much like Stonewall Jackson, Altavista has played a tough schedule and enters the playoffs with a 2-8 record.

Lampman said the Colonels run a double-wing pistol formation. He said they have three very athletic players on offense and defense.

Junior running back Christian Gilbert, senior quarterback Jacob Adams and senior running back Shyhiem Pannell have led the Colonels this season.

“They have three athletes on their offense, and we feel like if we shut that down then we should be able to compete,” Hoover said. “They run kind of an option double-wing. We’ve seen that all year in the district. All the teams we play run the double wing.”

Lampman said that Gilbert, Adams and Pannell are standouts on the defensive side as well. He said all three play on the back end of Altavista’s defense, and he thinks the Generals could have an advantage on the offensive and defensive lines.

One thing that could help the Generals is they are coming off a bye week and have had an extra week to prepare for the game.

Lampman said that the Generals are healthy once again.

“We’re probably going down there as healthy as we can possibly be, except for the guys that are out for the season,” Lampman said. “We’re probably as healthy as we’ve been all season, except for the very beginning.”

Despite the Generals’ struggles this season, Lampman said he has seen improvement from his squad. He said they had a better offseason leading into the season and they will need to continue making strides this coming offseason.

Lampman said the offense, which now uses a triple-option offense, has made big strides.

“I think offensively we probably doubled our point total from last year,” Lampman said. “We moved the ball better than we did last year. I think we’ve improved offensively. I just think the whole attitude of the program has improved somewhat.”

The winner of the Stonewall Jackson-Altavista game will play top-seeded Riverheads in the regional semifinals on Nov. 17.

Lampman said that he wants the players to look at today’s game as an opportunity to salvage something from the season.

“We got an extra game and if you go down there and you win then you’ve erased a lot of stink off of 0-10,” Lampman said. “You win a playoff game, then you come back and get another week of practice. I told them we’re 0-0. This starts a new season. We go down and win the game we get to play another game. VHSL gave us another opportunity. Let’s go take advantage of it.”