Football Tab 2018: Logan Ritchie ready to reclaim reins of Generals’ triple-option offense
QUICKSBURG – When Pete Lampman was asked earlier this month about the qualities senior Logan Ritchie brings to the field, the Stonewall Jackson football coach immediately mentioned leadership.
Lampman detailed Ritchie’s work ethic and his attitude, how he’s always upbeat, sometimes to the point where he “plays around” a little too much. Ritchie is a leader, Lampman said, and the Generals follow him. For that reason, he was a logical choice to serve as Stonewall’s starting quarterback in 2018.
“I like to be a leader and I know I’m gonna have the ball in my hands a lot, and the offense kind of relies on what I decide to do,” Ritchie said of getting the chance to quarterback Stonewall’s triple-option offense after playing wingback last season. “I’ve run the option multiple years of my life, so I was really familiar with it, so I was just ready to take it on, I guess, lead the team.”
Ritchie is no stranger to the quarterback position. He began the 2016 season, his sophomore year, as the backup to QB Brendan Hoover and took over the reins of the Generals’ offense when Hoover went down with a broken collarbone in the second game that fall.
Stonewall went winless in 2016 and again last season in the first year under Lampman, who re-installed the triple-option after the Generals dabbled in that style of offense back in 2013.
Ritchie now faces the task of helping to orchestrate an offense that has struggled mightily to produce much in the way of yards and points in recent seasons.
“He’s been super positive,” Lampman said of his new quarterback. “… He’s worked hard. He’s been an area of strength – quarterback’s been an area of strength this year, first and second team, actually, so we’ve got some depth there. He’s learned to read the option pretty well. It kind of all revolves around him. As long as he’s going well, then we’ll be going well.”
Things didn’t go very well for the Generals in their first full season in the triple-option in 2017, as they averaged only 191 yards per game, the worst mark in the Northern Virginia Daily’s coverage area.
In preparation for the 2018 season, the Stonewall coaching staff welcomed Lou Cella, a sport and performance psychologist who runs the Triple Option Football Academy to the school. As a result, the offense was pared down to make things simpler for the Generals.
Ritchie said he’d already noticed a difference in the first couple weeks of preseason practice.
“Last year we kind of had everything like spread out and it was a lot more complicated,” Ritchie said. “This year it’s just simplified to where guys know what to do on every play, and we have a good majority of returners back so everybody knows the concept of the offense. We’re just running it more fluently.”
There was nearly a different Ritchie quarterbacking the Generals’ more simplified offense this season. Logan Ritchie’s younger brother Austin served as Hoover’s backup at the start of last season and took over the starting role in a midseason position shuffle that sent Hoover to wingback.
Austin Ritchie entered the offseason as the Generals’ only varsity-ready QB, and Lampman said discussions were had that led to the older Ritchie being thrown back into the quarterback mix. Stonewall’s coaching staff decided Logan Ritchie would be the better fit for the Generals in 2018, given that he’s bigger and stronger than his younger brother, whom Lampman said will benefit from having another year to grow.
Austin Ritchie, a sophomore, is Stonewall’s backup quarterback this fall.
“In practice and offseason me and him were both pushing each other to new levels,” Logan Ritchie said, “because we were both working hard, like working out every day, throwing the ball, getting better at reads and stuff like that. So we both kind of upped our game level a couple steps up. I’ve seen improvements in him so I know next year whenever I leave he’s gonna be up there where he left off. He ought to be good and I’ve gotten better with him pushing me because he taught me like all what happened last year from a different perspective at quarterback.”
Logan Ritchie added that Austin has handled the situation well, considering he had to cede the starting job to his older brother.
“He’s always been one of my biggest supporters, so he’s always been behind me in everything I do,” Logan Ritchie said. “And he knows that he’s still gonna get time out there, so it’s not that big of a deal. But we just have that close of a bond where whether it’s him out there or me out there, we’ll both support each other no matter what.”
Regarding his return to QB, Logan Ritchie said he’s comfortable making the necessary reads to the run the triple-option effectively, and Lampman said the senior possesses the fearlessness, athleticism and intelligence required to quarterback such an offense.
Ritchie’s also eager to retain his starting role on the defensive side of the ball at cornerback, saying that he appreciates the idea of being able to make up for mistakes he makes on offense by making a big defensive play.
The 2018 season will mark Ritchie’s fourth as a member of Stonewall’s varsity team, and his third as a starter. In his first three seasons, the Generals have won just one game.
“This year I just wanna be able to look back and realize I left it all out there on the field,” said Ritchie, who also plays baseball at Stonewall and helped the Generals reach the VHSL Class 1 state championship game as a sophomore in the spring of 2017. “And this year I just want help from all my guys. I want all of them giving me their all, and I’ll give them my best. Hopefully we can come together. I know one of our goals is to end that streak of losing. That’s the really big goal that we all have.”