Generals enjoy early start to preseason

Stonewall Jackson High School head coach Pete Lampman watches his varsity team run an offense drill Thursday morning during the first day of practice in Quicksburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

QUICKSBURG – Logan Ritchie couldn’t contain his excitement.

The Stonewall Jackson senior was so excited about the Generals’ first day of football practice that he arrived at the school an hour early – at 5 a.m.

” I was hyped,” Ritchie said after Stonewall Jackson’s practice on Thursday morning. “I came out here, I got here an hour early. I was just excited to be out here on the field. And when you got out here it was like you’re excited it’s here, and you’re just really excited. The adrenaline’s rushing. You’re just ready to hit somebody already.”

The Generals had the earliest practice of the three Shenandoah County schools on Thursday. Stonewall Jackson coach Pete Lampman originally wanted to have a ‘Midnight Madness’ and start the first practice at midnight, but they had to cancel those plans earlier this week. So Lampman decided to hold practice from 6:30-9:30 a.m., with players reporting to the locker room at 6 a.m.

Lampman said he was very happy with how practice went on opening day.

Quarterback Logan Ritchie flips a pitch on an option play during Stonewall Jackson High School's first day of practice. Rich Cooley/Daily

“It was foggy. It looked beautiful – sunrise service,” Lampman said of the early start. “The guys got here and they had a lot of energy, especially for 6:30 in the morning. I’m sure none of them had gotten up at 6:30 anytime in the last six weeks, lots of good energy. They came out and they worked hard today.”

Lampman said the Generals had around 40 players show up for the first day, which was varsity and junior varsity combined. He said some players are on vacation and he expects to have around 30 on varsity this season and 22 on junior varsity.

Ritchie said he liked practicing so early in the morning and he thought things went well for the Generals.

“It was great,” he said. “We had a lot of intensity. The plays were run well. The guys knew what they were doing. We had a lot of hustle and good focus.”

The Generals began running the triple option on offense last season, and Lampman said they’ve shown a lot of progress with it. He said that over the summer they held a camp at Stonewall Jackson and had an instructor from Triple Option Football Academy come to the school and work with the kids to get better and improve running the option.

Stonewall Jackson High School's Chase Streett takes a water break during practice on Thursday. The Generals started their first practice Thursday at 6:30 a.m. Rich Cooley/Daily

Stonewall Jackson senior running back Udreka Claude said they are running plays much better now than they were a year ago.

“Last year was just like a learning experience,” Claude said. “This year we kind of got it down. So we should a be a lot more solid.”

Ritchie will move from running back to quarterback this season. He said that he’s played quarterback most of his career and he’s excited about his opportunity this season.

“I’m familiar with it, so it’s nothing new,” Ritchie said. “I like it. I like having the ball in my hands. I can make the right reads. I like running the option. I’m just out here ready to make some plays.”

Ritchie said that it feels good being a senior this year and he’s trying to be more of a leader on the team. He’s said he’s looking forward to his final season with the Generals.

“It did fly by to get to senior year,” Ritchie said. “It went by fast, but now that it’s here, I just got to sit back, relax and enjoy it.”

The Generals suffered through a 0-11 season last year, which included a loss in the Class 1, Region B playoffs. Lampman said that he was very happy with the attitude of his players on Thursday and all summer long.

“They got stronger, they worked hard this summer,” he said. “They’re excited about playing. They’re ready to try to turn things around here. They’re ready to do something special and get things headed in the right direction.”