Football Tab 2018: Stonewall trying to buck losing trend in Lampman’s second season
QUICKSBURG – When a team is hurting for wins as badly as Stonewall Jackson’s football team, sometimes even the smallest of changes are necessary to try to erase some of that bad mojo. Head coach Pete Lampman made plenty of them heading into his second season at the helm.
The Generals’ coaching staff made the obvious move when it ramped up the team’s summertime workout program, an aspect Lampman expects to continue to grow in the future. But the team also has made more miniscule changes, such as the reintroduction of red helmets and brand-new white uniforms and moving the location of the team’s practice field.
“We’re trying everything in the book basically to get it going,” Lampman said recently. “It’s not an overnight process but I think we’re heading in the right direction.”
Lampman’s first season as Stonewall’s head coach ended the same as it did in 2016 when he was an assistant – with a zero in the win column. The Generals went 0-11 in 2017, a mark that included a loss in the first round of the Region 1B playoffs, and they’ve won only five games over the past six years.
Stonewall doesn’t return much in the way of experience this fall – most of the few returning starters the Generals do have are playing new positions – but Lampman said he feels the team is “better and more athletic” than it was a year ago.
The general feeling is that Stonewall should see progress offensively. Not only do the Generals now have a year in the triple-option, but the team also got the chance to work with Lou Cella of the Triple Option Football Academy during a camp at Stonewall over the summer.
“He came down and told us how to do it properly,” Lampman said of Cella, a sport and performance psychologist. “We were doing a pretty good job but now we know exactly what we’re looking for, what we wanna run, so we’ve cut down on the things that they have to know and learn so they can just play football. We tried to do the same philosophy defensively as well.”
The Generals are hoping that simplification on offense leads to better results after averaging just 11.3 points per game and 191 yards per contest during the regular season.
Logan Ritchie, a senior who played wingback last season, has moved back to quarterback and will take the reins as the starter this fall. Lampman said QB should be a strength for the Generals in 2018, as should an offensive line that includes four seniors – center Chase Streett, the unit’s only returning starter, left tackle James Shumway, left guard Tyler Mongold and right guard Devin Campbell – and junior right tackle Jacob Stephens.
Junior Tyler Vanderpuye will start the season as the starting fullback, Lampman said, at least until senior Udreka Claude – Stonewall’s second-leading rusher (45 carries, 239 yards, one touchdown) last season – returns from a two-game suspension, and sophomore Rion Dennison and junior Damian Tapia will be the starting wingbacks.
Blake McCourt, a senior and the only returning offensive starter who is playing the same position he did a year ago, will start at receiver alongside classmate Branson Estep.
“They’re eager. They wanna turn it around. They’re working pretty hard,” Lampman said. “I think we have a chance to be a decent football team. I think we’re gonna compete well. I think we’ll compete better than we did last year.”
Many of those same names will feature prominently on the defensive side of the ball.
Up front, the 6-foot, 254-pound Campbell will start at defensive tackle alongside junior Cole Wealthy, Lampman said, with Shumway and Kyle Baker at end.
The strength of Stonewall’s defense, Lampman said, lies at the linebacker position, where the 6-foot-, 230-pound Streett returns to anchor the middle. He’ll be flanked by Stephens and Dennison, and Claude figures to also enter the mix upon his return.
In the secondary, Ritchie, a returning starter, will hold down one of the cornerback spots opposite Vanderpuye, and Lampman said Tapia and Austin Ritchie are likely to start at the two safety spots, although he added that the position was “undetermined” as of Aug. 14.
Last season Stonewall allowed 53.8 points per game.
“We’re just trying to get more aggressiveness, less thinking, so simplifying the defense,” Lampman said. “More aggressiveness and going after the ball and hitting somebody. Worry less about making a mistake and go hit somebody.”
McCourt will once again handle the kicking duties.
Stonewall, which has lost 27 games in a row dating back to the 2015 season, opens the 2018 slate with a game at Strasburg on Aug. 24.
“Really we just wanna win,” Lampman said of the team’s goals. “We wanna get a win. Let’s get one and let’s enjoy that and go out and get another one. And then when you get another one, you want another one, and so forth and so on. Really we just wanna get a win and compete and see where that takes us, because once you get that feeling of that winning, you don’t ever wanna not do that again. It’ll be a big day and I think these kids have a chance to do that.”