Hampton upbeat after rare shutout win
Saturday, September 26, 2020 | 11:01 AM
A 3-by-3-foot white board hangs on the wall inside the clubhouse at Hampton’s Fridley Field to commemorate “Football Shutouts.”
Every shutout since 2010 is memorialized with the date, score and opponent in one-inch adhesive black letters.
For five years, it had stood untouched and unchanged, a stark, daily reminder of the program’s recent tough times.
Then in Week 2, the Talbots made sure the board got a new look.
Fueled by a relentless pass rush, Hampton blanked host Armstrong, 17-0, to snap an eight-game losing streak and record the program’s first shutout win since Oct. 2, 2015.
“At the end of the game, they were driving a little bit,” senior middle linebacker Conrad Harold said after practice at sun-draped Fridley Field four days after the Sept. 18 win. “We had to stop them, and we did.”
The shutout was the first since a 28-0 victory over Knoch on Oct. 2, 2015 — a span of 47 games — and only the sixth to find a spot on the clubhouse board.
The Talbots were 1-1 entering their Sept. 25 game against visiting Highlands as part of a seven-game, conference-only schedule. They travel to Greensburg Salem on Oct 2.
Hampton coach Jacque DeMatteo unleashed a blitz-heavy attack at Armstrong sophomore Cadin Olsen, who had passed for a WPIAL-best 396 yards along with three touchdowns in a 21-7 Week 1 victory over Indiana.
The Talbots recorded eight sacks, six quarterback hurries and held Armstrong to 145 total yards, including 39 rushing on 30 attempts.
“It’s a good feeling when you work hard and then you see the positive results from working hard,” DeMatteo said.
The Talbots offense also had a memorable night, as junior running back Christian Liberto carried 34 times for 174 yards and two touchdowns behind the offensive line of center Ryan Mankevich, guards Dawson Dietz and Logan Schwartz and tackles Michael Bagley and Johnny Morris.
The victory was Hampton’s first since a 31-28 win over Shaler in Week 3 last season. The Talbots, who this season dropped from Class 5A to 4A as part of the WPIAL realignment, had been 6-36 in their previous 42 games.
“It was very exciting,” the 5-foot-11, 260-pound Mankevich said of the win. “It was like we were all back together. We’re a whole new team this year.
“You can keep building off a win. It’s hard to build off a loss. You can try to rebuild, but it’s nice to keep building off a win instead of trying to rebuild off something.”
The Talbots still have a long way to go in the Greater Allegheny Conference. They started 2-1 last season but lost their final seven games to finish 2-8 for the third consecutive year. But they now are facing teams closer to their enrollment.
Only eight of the 23 WPIAL 4A schools have a larger enrollment than Hampton, which was one of the smallest schools in 5A from 2016-19.
“The past four years, it was a perfect storm that hit Hampton,” DeMatteo said. “Now that we’re in a different conference, you see a little different attitude in the kids. We’ll see where we are at the end.”
Senior quarterback Matt DeMatteo, the coach’s son, said the Talbots are confident they can reach the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2015.
“That feeling after a win, you want that to keep coming back,” the quarterback said. “We came back to practice even hungrier.”
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