Hampton football looks ahead following heartbreaking loss

Saturday, November 12, 2022 | 11:01 AM

Hampton senior Eric Weeks has replayed the final moments of the Talbots’ 34-33 gut-wrenching last-second WPIAL Class 4A playoff loss to Montour over and over again.

But the ending never changed.

“I’ve watched that play probably 50 times, thinking of anything I could have done better,” the wide receiver/defensive back said. “It sucks to look at that play. It all comes down to that prayer. The kid went up and made a great play.”

No. 9 seed Hampton’s up-and-down 2022 season ended Nov. 4 when No. 8 Montour completed a 23-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass on the last play of the game to culminate a 99-yard drive in the final 1:24.

Montour had taken possession after Hampton junior running back Brock Borgo fumbled reaching for the goal line at the Montour 1.

Eighty-four seconds later, third-string QB Kaleb Platz threw a Hail Mary to sophomore James Bundridge, who caught the ball in front of Weeks at the 1-yard line and fought into the end zone for the winning score.

The Montour players mobbed Bundridge in the end zone and celebrated as Weeks fought to crawl out from underneath the pile.

“It was just anger and sadness,” said Weeks, whose 67-yard fourth-quarter touchdown reception had given the Talbots a 33-28 lead. “It was shock. It definitely was an experience, but not a very good one.”

After the loss, first-year coach Steve Sciullo gathered his team on the field at Montour’s stadium and searched for the right words.

“I told the kids that I can’t let them have their heads down,” Sciullo said. “They fought too hard. They can’t change what happened on that last drive. They can’t let it define the rest of their lives or their high school careers. They have to turn the page and move on.”

The gut-wrenching loss put a sudden halt to a season in which the Talbots (5-6) had enjoyed big wins, absorbed narrow losses and dealt with numerous key injuries as they rebuilt from last year’s senior-heavy conference championship team.

Hampton finished in a three-way tie for third in the Greater Allegheny and snuck into the playoffs on the Gardner Points tiebreaker.

“Our kids fought,” Sciullo said, “the whole entire time.”

Borgo had his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season, and senior Benny Haselrig put together one of the best seasons by a Talbots wide receiver in program history, catching 58 passes for 944 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Senior quarterback Joey Mayer battled injuries but finished with 967 passing yards and 15 TDs along with 356 rushing yards and another five scores.

Junior quarterback Adrian Midgley stepped in to start nearly half the season, going 11 of 18 for 303 yards and four touchdowns in the playoff game, by far his best effort of the year.

“Adrian had a phenomenal game,” Sciullo said. “I think he put some people on notice that he’s for real and he’s coming next year.”

Hampton will lose 14 seniors, including five four-year players — QB/DB Mayer, WR/DB Haselrig, lineman Aidan Lewis, OL/LB Mike Santorello and RB/LB Mike Morgano. When they were freshmen, Hampton went 2-8 for the third consecutive season. They helped the Talbots reach the playoffs in each of their final three seasons.

“We keep making strides and continue to get better and better as a program,” said Weeks, a standout shortstop who will play baseball at Canisius. “Hopefully, we can keep on building and next year will be another good year.”

Other graduating seniors are Sean Donlan, Braxton Eastly, Gabe Harris, Luke Hartle, Kaden Hoolahan, Tyler Mack, Liam Martin and Dylan Rubenstein.

Top returnees include Midgley, Borgo, junior linemen Gabe Gannelli and Gryffin Keller, junior tackle Nate Glock, sophomore receiver Ray Kirsopp and junior kicker Luke Fiscus.

They will be joined by players from a junior varsity team that went 7-3, including lopsided wins over Shaler (47-0) and Highlands (35-0).

While the WPIAL playoff loss hurts, the outgoing seniors built many lasting memories. Each Thursday night during the 2022 season, they would gather at a different senior’s house to eat dinner and watch the NFL game.

In early September, it was Weeks’ turn to host. His dad grilled out, making hamburgers, hot dogs, pulled pork and mac and cheese.

“We spent a lot of time with each other every week, like five hours at someone’s house, all of us together,” Weeks said. “It was a really good time, and there’s a bond and a friendship that will always be there for each other.”


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