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Rams not overlooking winless Panthers

Stephen Kloosterman

STRASBURG – Strasburg is hoping to have learned its lesson from last year’s football contest with Rappahannock County.

Even though the Rams won the game, 26-0, the players and coaches did not feel like the team played well. Strasburg senior Stephen Kloosterman said the team needs to learn from that experience when it plays at Rappahannock County tonight at 6:30 p.m.

“I think we went down there and were thinking we were going to destroy them,” Kloosterman said of last year’s game. “But I think that mentality kind of made us play bad. We can’t go in there and take them lightly. It’s still a football game – anything can happen.”

The Rams (1-1) were supposed to play at home on Friday night, but the game was moved to Wednesday at Rappahannock County due to the forecasted weather and due to the condition of Strasburg’s football field.

Strasburg assistant coach and defensive coordinator Tripp Lamb said that it’s important for the Rams to stay focused and play hard against the Panthers.

“Any time you go out there to play you want to play your best,” Lamb said. “No matter who the opponent, the outcome, you want to do your best. And I think that is definitely going to be a point of emphasis going into this week is not to worry so much about who they are or what they’ve done. We need to try to be the best version of ourselves when we kick off.”

The Panthers have a new head coach, Fulmer Banks, and Lamb said they have most of their players back from last season.

Rappahannock County doesn’t play a full Bull Run District schedule, so the Panthers are not eligible for the postseason. The Panthers have suffered three lopsided losses and have been outscored 151-6 in three games.

Lamb said that on offense they like to run the ball.

“They’re a run-first football team,” he said. “They like to run the football, pound the football in there. They got a capable thrower when he’s called upon. But they’re definitely trying to establish the run game first.”

Defensively, Lamb said the Panthers present some challenges as well.

“They get to the football, they come off the football pretty good,” Lamb said. “And we’re looking forward to the challenge of putting some points on them.”

The Rams are coming off a bye week, and Lamb said the team did a lot of team activities and worked on fixing their mistakes from the previous week, a 35-7 loss to Luray.

In the loss to Luray, a couple of breakdowns on special teams led to points for the Bulldogs. Lamb said fixing those mistakes were a big priority last week.

“We did a lot of special teams work last week, especially early on in the week,” Lamb said. “That was definitely a point of emphasis the first couple days out there. So we spent a lot of time on it, just making sure that we could get things done the way they needed to get done to make sure that we’re on our toes when the special teams is called upon.”

Despite giving up some points to Luray, Lamb said he’s been very pleased with how Strasburg’s defense has played so far this season. The Rams are led on defense by senior Da’Neil Holliday with 20 tackles.

Strasburg’s offense has also shown flashes of big-play and scoring ability. Strasburg junior quarterback Chase Hart is 23-for-48 passing for 399 yards and four touchdowns. Kloosterman has eight receptions for 166 yards, and junior Trevor Sager has six catches for 139 yards and two scores. Junior running back Jalen Bray has 24 carries for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Lamb said that once everything comes together he has high hopes for the offense.

“We obviously didn’t perform as well as we wanted to against Luray, but I think big things are coming for our offense,” Lamb said. “We got a lot of capable players. And as soon as we get it put together and get everybody on the same page I think we’re going to be dangerous on offense.”

The players said that they are ready to get back on the field and play. They said having the bye week has made them even more excited for tonight’s game.

“It feels amazing because I missed it last Friday,” Strasburg senior Hunter Miller said. “There’s no other feeling like it.”

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