Hampton athletes rack up championships during historic fall season

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Sunday, November 28, 2021 | 11:01 AM


One year after a pandemic rattled WPIAL athletics, something else proved to be contagious at Hampton — winning.

The Talbots fall sports programs put together the most successful season in school history, claiming multiple WPIAL team titles, a PIAA championship and posting an 11-win football season.

“It’s once in a lifetime,” longtime Hampton athletic director Bill Cardone said. “These things don’t come around too often and when they do, you certainly enjoy it.”

Three Hampton programs — football, girls volleyball and boys cross country — enjoyed their best-ever seasons, while the boys soccer team had the most triumphant year of them all.

Indeed, the Talbots made a lot of memories this fall.

The boys soccer team won WPIAL and PIAA titles and the boys cross country team ran away with the WPIAL Class 2A crown.

Excluding football, which hadn’t completed its season at deadline for this edition, Hampton joined North Allegheny and North Catholic as the only schools to win multiple WPIAL team titles and at least one state championship.

It marked only the second time in school history that Hampton won multiple team WPIAL titles in the same season. The previous time was fall 1994 (girls soccer, girls tennis).

“I see a spirit among the fall teams,” football coach Jacque DeMatteo said during his team’s conference championship season. “This group of seniors that roam our hallways, they are a special group and they have a special bond. I haven’t seen it like that in a long time here.”

Here are the teams that made fall 2021 so special at Hampton:

Boys soccer: Won its first WPIAL title since 2011 and its first state championship since 2010. The Talbots finished 23-1 while posting a perfect section record (14-0-0) for the first time in 31 years.

Football: Opened the season with 11 consecutive wins, setting a program record for victories, winning the Greater Allegheny Conference crown and advancing the WPIAL 4A quarterfinals.

Girls volleyball: Enjoyed by far the best season in program history, reaching the WPIAL finals for the second time and the PIAA finals for the first time. The Talbots avenged their WPIAL title-game loss to Freeport to reach the PIAA finals, where they fall to Spring Grove, 3-1. Prior to this season, the Talbots had never won a PIAA playoff game.

Cross country: The boys won the first WPIAL team title in program history and placed seventh at the PIAA championships, their best-ever finish. Sophomore Nathan Garrett was 19th at states, the top showing by a Hampton boy in 30 years.

Girls soccer: Went 12-4-3, going 11-0-2 during one stretch, and reached the WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinals.

“I think you build a culture,” girls volleyball coach Annie Bozzo said. “The culture of working hard and hard work pays off. I think (our athletes) work super hard, and we’re seeing it come to light.”

Hampton did more than just reach the WPIAL playoffs. The Talbots excelled on the big stage.

Only three WPIAL schools qualified for the postseason in football, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball and then won at least one playoff game in each sport — Hampton, Moon and North Catholic.

Even the Hampton teams that came up short of the WPIAL playoffs added to the school’s successful fall.

The girls tennis team rebounded from an 0-10 season to go 3-5 in section play, and senior Megan Kang and freshman Grace Stitt became the first Talbots doubles team to reach the WPIAL tournament since 2014.

In golf, junior Dan Venture qualified for the WPIAL individual championships.

In girls cross country, junior Ava Vitiello was a top-10 finisher at WPIALs and Kevyn Fish placed 57th at the PIAA Class 3A championships, the best finish by a Hampton freshman girl in 24 years.

“It’s special,” Cardone said, “to have a fall season like this one that we’ve never had before.”

Regardless of sport, the athletes supported each other, attending games to cheer on their classmates. Athletes from all sports packed the student section at Fridley Field for each Friday night home football game.

After the boys soccer team won the WPIAL title on Nov. 6 at Highmark Stadium, the players took a school bus to Robert Morris — eating celebratory pizza along the way — to cheer on the Talbots girls volleyball team in the WPIAL finals.

Meanwhile, the Hampton girls basketball team, at a three-day event at John Carroll getting ready for their upcoming winter season, spent their off day watching both of the Talbots’ Nov. 6 WPIAL championship games on livestream while sitting around a table at the Cleveland university.

“The support that we get has just been awesome,” Cardone said.

“I always say compared to Kennywood, it’s nice to be on top of the roller coaster rather than going down it. And we’ve certainly been on top of it this fall, and we’ve embraced it and enjoyed it.”

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