Hampton football making noise with super start

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Saturday, September 11, 2021 | 11:01 AM


On the bus ride home from their 51-13 victory at Fox Chapel on Sept. 3, the Hampton football players couldn’t play any music during their joyful postgame celebration.

“I think the speaker we brought died,” senior tackle John Morris said.

But the Talbots are still making plenty of noise.

Hampton followed a 41-0 victory over Valley in the season opener with the rout at Fox Chapel, moving them to 2-0 to start a season for the first time since opening 5-0 on the way to the 2015 WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinals.

Using a bruising ground game, an unexpected quarterback tandem and an opportunistic defense, the Talbots are one of the best early season stories of the 2021 WPIAL football season.

The Talbots were slated to play another surprising 2-0 team, Shaler, on Friday, Sept. 10, in a game played after deadline for this edition.

Hampton opens Greater Allegheny action against another fast-starting team, Armstrong, on Sept. 17.

“Each week is a growing process for them,” Hampton coach Jacque DeMatteo said. “Thus far, they have handled it well. We will see how they respond when adversity hits them.”

The Talbots didn’t face much difficulty in the opening two wins.

Through two weeks, Hampton was the third-highest scoring team in 21-school WPIAL Class 4A at 46.0 points per game, behind only Belle Vernon (49.0) and Armstrong (48.5).

The victory over Fox Chapel was the Talbots’ highest-scoring game since a 55-0 win over Albert Gallatin in the 2014 opener, and their 92 points scored in a two-game span is their most in 16 years.

“The good thing that we have this year is I think we have some backs and we have some depth and we have the ability to make big plays,” DeMatteo said. “We have that ability, and we haven’t had that in a while.”

The Talbots rushed for 442 yards against Fox Chapel, including a trio who surpassed the 100-yard milestone. Sophomore Brock Borgo rushed for a career-high 141 yards on 10 carries with three touchdowns. Junior Joey Mayer (8-104) and senior Christian Liberto (19-103) also reached the century mark.

It was the first time in DeMatteo’s 13-plus seasons at Hampton that he had three 100-yard rushers in the same game.

“All of it was the offensive line,” Borgo said after practice at Fridley Field on Sept. 7. “They were the whole reason behind me having 100 yards.”

On defense, junior defensive tackle Gabe Harris had three sacks against Fox Chapel.

The offensive line suffered a setback in the first half against Fox Chapel when senior right guard Michael Bagley suffered a likely season-ending injury. Senior Chuck Schuit stepped in, joining tackles Morris and Logan Rutledge, guard Logan Schwartz and center Kole Reiser on an all-senior front five.

“We have great chemistry,” Morris said. “We have known each other for years. We are going to try to keep at it.”

More help is on the way. Junior all-conference wide receiver Benny Haselrig is due back soon from an injury and senior quarterback Matt DeMatteo, a three-year starter, continues to improve from a right shoulder injury that has limited his snaps. Mayer has shared time at quarterback, throwing three touchdown passes in the first two games, including a 44-yarder to DeMatteo against Fox Chapel.

“Joey is doing a fantastic job, so I don’t any reason to pull him because of his play,” coach DeMatteo said. “Matt’s injury is coming along. I’m not a big fan of playing two quarterbacks, but I think we are in a unique situation.”

Hampton brought some confidence into this past offseason after reaching the WPIAL playoffs last year for the first time since 2015. The quick 2-0 start has only enhanced their belief in themselves.

“During summer camp and two-a-days, we would be a little anxious,” Morris said. “But now everyone seems like they are coming into their own.”

Coach DeMatteo said one key factor is a selflessness among the skill players. Six players had rushing touchdowns through two games, and tight end Mike Witherup, in only his third full season of organized football, has caught two TD passes.

“We tell them, ‘There is only one football.’ But we haven’t had any sense or feeling that kids are disappointed or it’s about them,” coach DeMatteo said. “If they have this lineman attitude about themselves, where they don’t care and they just want to go out there and win, and be like a lineman in mindset but in a Ferrari body, I think we will be all right.”

On the offensive

Here are Hampton’s highest-scoring games under 14th-year coach Jacque DeMatteo.

Points — Opponent, final score, date

59 — Highlands, 59-0, Oct. 30, 2009

58 — Derry, 58-13, Oct. 11, 2013

55 — Albert Gallatin, 55-0, Aug. 29, 2014

51 — Fox Chapel, 51-13, Sept. 3, 2021

49 — Knoch, 49-0, Oct. 23, 2020

49 — Derry, 49-0, Oct. 12, 2012

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