Hampton football offers no excuses after rough start
Saturday, September 16, 2023 | 11:01 AM
The Hampton football team could blame its dreadful start this season on a number of factors.
There was the loss of senior quarterback Adrian Midgley to a torn ACL on the first day of training camp, followed by a demanding nonconference three-game stretch to open the season.
But second-year coach Steve Sciullo is looking for execution, not excuses.
“They’re not going to cancel (our next) game,” said Sciullo, leading up to the Sept. 15 Greater Allegheny Conference opener against visiting Kiski Area (1-2). “We’re going to go out there and play the dang game and execute the best we can. I’d like it to be a little bit better than we’ve been executing.”
The Talbots couldn’t have played much worse in the first three weeks. A season-opening 43-35 loss at WPIAL Class 3A Knoch — a team that Hampton had outscored by a cumulative score of 127-0 three previous three years — was followed by lopsided defeats to Shaler (43-8) and Central Valley (55-0).
After three weeks, Hampton ranked 116th out of 117 WPIAL teams in points allowed per game at 47.7 (Summit Academy, 49.7). The fact that the Talbots’ three losses came to teams who were a combined 8-1 after three weeks didn’t comfort anyone.
“It’s tough,” Sciullo said. “Knoch is a good team. Shaler is a good team. They are ranked in Class 5A, and obviously Central Valley is Central Valley. But that doesn’t excuse the lack of effort I’ve seen in some of the games.”
Junior Porter Kelly and sophomore Jack Shaunessey have split time at quarterback in place of Midgley, who underwent surgery Sept. 11. The offense looked to be in good hands with the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Midgley, who started about half of the games last season and threw for 303 yards and four touchdowns in the WPIAL Class 4A playoff loss to Montour.
“It was really disappointing,” said junior wide receiver/outside linebacker Ray Kirsopp, who missed two games himself after suffering a concussion in the opener. “It is his senior season, and I’m more worried about him than the future of our team. He’s one of my very good friends.”
Said Sciullo, “He had a phenomenal offseason. We were really expecting big things from him. Unfortunately, some plans got scrapped there.”
Kelly (5-7, 145) and Shaunessey (5-11, 160) have mainly struggled after being pressed into bigger roles. They went a combined 3 of 17 for 63 yards against Central Valley and 4 of 13 for 25 yards and two interceptions in the loss to Shaler.
“Even if you are young, it doesn’t matter, when you (cross) the stripe onto the field, it’s next man up,” said Kirsopp, who expected to return against Kiski Area. “It’s that type of attitude. We’re not really worried about all of the injuries. We’re worried about the next game.”
Sciullo says the diminutive Kelly is “150 pounds of intangibles” and said the strong-armed Shaunessey “has a fantastic future … and we’re looking forward to seeing him improve.”
“In order to be the guy, someone really needs to seize that and emerge,” Sciullo said, “and that’s what we’re hoping to see.”
The running game has also sputtered. Senior Brock Borgo, coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, managed only 158 yards on 50 carries (3.2 ypc) through the first three games. He added 10 receptions for 104 yards.
The bright spot for the Talbots is the program’s first 0-3 start since 2016 carries no bearing on their bid to reach the WPIAL playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
“I’m pretty confident,” Kirsopp said. “We’re 0-0 in conference play. It gives us a fresh start.”
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