Hampton no stranger to football playoffs
Hampton isn’t considered a perennial power in football.
But the Talbots still have a few big years in their history.
Fourth-seeded Hampton, who will take on No. 5 Ringgold (9-1) Friday at West Allegheny, is the champion of the Greater Allegheny Conference, where its lone loss was to Mars, 20-14, in the final game of the regular season.
Over the past 10 seasons (2004-13), Hampton made the playoffs six times and reached the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals once (2009), losing to Montour, 31-9.
However, the Talbots posted records under .500 six times in that 10-year span, including 2013 when the team went 4-6 and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
This is the third year in a row Hampton has been in the playoffs, with the last two ending in first-round losses.
This year’s Talbots are 9-1, sparking memories of the 2005 team that went 9-2 and lost to Franklin Regional, 31-14, in the quarterfinals.
Hampton defeated New Castle, 33-14, in the first round last week.
The Talbots are led by senior quarterback Nick Grabowski (6-3, 220), who has completed 44 of 92 passes for 761 yards and eight touchdowns with four interceptions. He also has rushed for 362 yards and a team-high 10 TDs.
While Grabowski doesn’t throw often, he doesn’t seem to care which teammate catches the ball as 12 different players have caught at least one pass. Nate Hyre (5-10, 165) is the leading receiver with nine catches for 149 yards and one TD.
Hampton’s leading rusher is junior running back Matt Rech (5-11, 175), who has rushed for 885 yards on 149 carries (5.9 average) with nine TDs.
In last week’s win over New Castle, Grabowski ran for one score and threw for two others. He completed 7 of 12 passes for 96 yards.
True to his season form, Grabowski hit six different receivers in the game, including Jack Werling, who hauled in a 24-yard pass to open the scoring, and Hyre, who caught a 22-yard TD pass.
Rech rushed for 149 yards on 21 carries and a TD, and teammate Nick Worobj had 124 yards on 10 carries, including a 50-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.
Worobj (5-11, 185) has 267 yards rushing on 28 carries for the season.
Ringgold and Hampton have two common opponents this season. The Talbots beat Albert Gallatin, 55-0, in the season opener and beat Knoch, 33-10, Sept. 26.
The Rams handed Knoch its first loss, 20-12, Sept. 12 and crushed AG, 56-7, Sept. 26.
The winner of the Ringgold-Hampton game will advance to the semifinals to face the winner of the game between No. 1 Central Valley (10-0) and No. 8 Indiana (7-3).
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or [email protected].