Hampton determined to extend playoff streak

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Saturday, August 12, 2023 | 11:04 PM


Something is catching on with Hampton football.

The Talbots return a handful of starters on both sides of the ball, led by back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher Brock Borgo, in their bid to reach the WPIAL playoffs for the fourth consecutive season and further distance themselves from the disheartening days of 2016-19, when they went a combined 6-34.

“These guys want to get after it, and they want to win,” second-year coach Steve Sciullo said. “Once you win a little bit, it becomes contagious.”

The players are motivated by the bitter memory of last season’s 34-33 WPIAL Class 4A first-round playoff loss at Montour, in which the ninth-seeded Talbots (5-6) allowed a 99-yard drive and lost on a Hail Mary touchdown pass as time expired.

Senior all-Greater Allegheny defensive end Gabe Gannelli, who last season had a team-high 13 sacks, said the sting of the loss “keeps me going.”

“Every time we look up there, we want to get one of those,” Gannelli said, eyeing the WPIAL and PIAA championship plaques from other sports at Fridley Field. “We want to get one of the WPIAL champion (banners).”

The Talbots lost a lot to graduation, including “three of the best athletes that have come through in a long time,” Sciullo said, referring to QB/DB Joey Mayer (Slippery Rock) and WRs/DBs Benny Haselrig (Pitt) and Eric Weeks (Canisius baseball).

“Those were three explosives dudes,” Sciullo said. “You lose those three guys, it’s going to be tough to replace them. We’ve just got to change what we do a little bit.”

Senior Adrian Midgley will start at quarterback after playing about half of the games last season while Mayer was sidelined with an injury. Midgley completed 51 of 101 pass attempts for 688 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions. The 6-foot, 170-pounder was at his best in the playoff loss, throwing for 303 yards and four touchdowns.

“We’re excited about seeing what he can do as a leader and as a quarterback on the field,” Sciullo said. “He has tremendous athleticism, and he had a fantastic offseason.”

Midgley worked hard to prepare for his senior season and reportedly timed a 4.5-second 40-yard dash at a summer camp.

“It was a big confidence booster for me to be able to see what it’s like to play quarterback at the varsity level,” Midgley said. “Those games, I thought I played decent. We’re going to carry that into this season and, hopefully, do well.”

Replacing Haselrig (58-937, 13 TDs) will be a multi-player effort with juniors Ray Kirsopp and Josh Carr and Haselrig’s younger brother, sophomore Willy, being the frontrunners for targets.

Borgo will be the focus of the offense. The first-team all-conference running back last season rushed for 1,017 yards and caught 13 passes for 150 yards. On defense, he intercepted five passes and forced three fumbles.

“It’s not going to be a secret that we’re going to try to get the ball to Brock Borgo,” Sciullo said. “I think everyone knows that. But that’s what we’re going to do. … I think everyone in the WPIAL is sleeping on this guy. He’s primed for a big senior year. We’re excited to get him out there and let him run.”

The 6-foot, 180-pound Borgo will run behind an offensive line that returns seniors Nate Glock, Gryffin Keller, Brady Long and Gannelli.

That foursome will also be part of a strong defensive line. Behind them, linebackers Kirsopp and Borgo and defensive backs Midgley and Haselrig spearhead the Talbots in an up-for-grabs Greater Allegheny Conference.

“Anyone can really win it,” Sciullo said. “It’s not a two-dog race (like) Central Valley and Aliquippa (in the Parkway Conference). Everyone is in it, and this year more than any other, … I think our league is going to be wide open again.”

Hampton

Coach: Steve Sciullo

2022 record: 5-6, 3-3 in Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference

All-time record: 332-389-21

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.25 at Knoch, 7

9.1 Shaler, 7

9.8 at Central Valley, 7

9.15 Kiski Area*, 7

9.22 at Armstrong*, 7

9.29 Connellsville, 7

10.6 North Catholic*, 7

10.13 at Indiana*, 7

10.20 Mars*, 7

10.27 at Highlands*, 7

*Conference game

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Joey Mayer*

54-94, 967 yards, 15 TDs

Rushing: Brock Borgo

168-1,017 yards, 5 TDs

Receiving: Benny Haselrig*

58-937 yards, 13 TDs

*Graduated

FAST FACTS

• Senior running back Brock Borgo needs 817 yards to reach 3,000 for his career

• Talbots newcomers include two of the school’s top wrestlers, senior Alan Danner and sophomore Dustin Kerr, who have joined the football team for the first time.

• Senior Luke Fiscus, an all-WPIAL midfielder for the Talbots’ boys soccer team, will again pull double-duty after being named second-team all-conference kicker last season.

• Hampton’s nonconference schedule consists of a Sept. 8 game at Central Valley, which is 51-4 since 2019, and Knoch, Shaler and Connellsville, which went a combined 8-22 last season.

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