Generals excited to start Shenandoah District season

Members of Stonewall Jackson High School's football team get hyped before heading to the field on Aug. 24 for their season opener against Strasburg. The Generals play at Wilson Memorial tonight. Rich Cooley/Daily

QUICKSBURG — Things didn’t go the way Stonewall Jackson’s football team wanted them to in the first two games, but today the Generals have a chance to start over with a clean slate.

The Generals play at Wilson Memorial in the first Shenandoah District game of the season. Stonewall Jackson lost to Strasburg and Central to start its season, but now the players say they are ready to hit the restart button and begin district play.

“It feels good,” Stonewall Jackson senior Udreka Claude said. “The first two games were for county bragging rights — we lost that. But now the real season starts.”

The Generals are facing a Wilson Memorial squad that rallied from a 14-point deficit in its season opener last week. The Green Hornets came from behind to beat Waynesboro, 47-28.

Sophomore quarterback Kaden Welcher, who transferred from Riverheads this year, gives the Green Hornets a passing threat to go with their usual solid running game.

“He’s pretty good,” Stonewall Jackson head coach Pete Lampman said of Welcher. “He throws the ball pretty well.”

Lampman said Wilson Memorial switched its offense to a Wing-T offense and sometimes runs the pistol formation. He said they’re more balanced offensively than in the past.

Defensively, Lampman said, the Green Hornets are also solid.

“They’re aggressive,” he said. “They’ll come after you. They tackle pretty well. They’ve got a good program going on there.”

One bright spot for the Generals is the return of Claude, a running back/linebacker, after a two-game suspension. Claude had 239 yards rushing last season for the Generals.

Claude said he’s excited to be back playing with his teammates.

“It’s a good feeling,” Claude said of his return. “Not being able to play the past two games really kind of hurt, but it’s good to be back so I can finally help my team out. I’m really excited. I can’t wait to play. I’ve been waiting since August to play. It means a lot.”

Lampman said that Claude can give the team a big lift on both sides of the ball.

“He helps their confidence immeasurably just by being able to play,” Lampman said. “He helps on both sides of the ball. And when you’re a team in single-A or double-A high school one or two players can make a huge difference.”

Claude will look to give the Generals’ run game a boost. Last week the Generals had minus-3 yards rushing as a team against Central. The game was stopped in the second quarter due to lightning and a power outage.

Claude said this game will mean even more to him since it’s the start of his senior season.

“This is going to be my first game as a senior,” he said. “My first last game. It’s going to mean a lot to me.”

Lampman said despite the record, he believes his team can compete with teams in the Shenandoah District, including Wilson Memorial.

“We just got to go out there and compete,” Lampman said. “These guys are quite capable of going out there and competing with most of the teams in our district. They need to believe it. They need to focus and play at 100 percent.”

Stonewall Jackson senior offensive and defensive lineman Devin Campbell said he sees improvement in his team, but they just need to keep working at it.

“We just need more teamwork,” Campbell said. “We need to build a bigger bond, but we’re getting there.”

The Generals have lost 29 games in a row, but have still secured a playoff game for the second straight year. Region 1B has only six playoff-eligible teams so the Generals are automatically into the postseason.

Lampman said he has told his team that if they can win a few games in the district, they could have a home playoff game.

He said he wants to see his team improve its effort against the Green Hornets.

“I want to see more effort and focus,” Lampman said. “In equal numbers, I want to see effort and focus. I want to see as mistake-free football as we can possibly get and see what happens.”