Looking back, there were signs of trouble all along.
Coming into the season, Hampton had one returning starter on defense — defensive back Tyquon Wilkins. Most starters from 2012, like lineman Troy Garrett and Daunte Wilson, had graduated. But the Crabbers lost others, most notably linebacker Marshawn Williams and defensive back Cal Key, to transfer.
It’s a different group than last year’s, which allowed a Peninsula District-best 9 points a game. And the results have been worse than anyone could have predicted.
In its four games against PD opponents, Hampton has allowed per-game averages of 264 rushing yards, 321 total yards, and 37 points. Perhaps more telling, the Crabbers are giving up nearly 7 yards per rushing attempt.
“It hasn’t been real good so far, that’s for sure,” Hampton coach Mike Smith said. “Some games have been better than others. Last week (Phoebus), it was non-existent. It’s a little puzzling, but we make no excuses. We’re working real hard to correct it.
“It’s like a man with his lunch pail going back to work every day in the coal mines of Southwestern Virginia. He works hard all day and hopes he can sit back on the weekend and relax. We haven’t had a weekend we could relax.”
Though the numbers are undeniably ugly, the schedule should be considered. Hampton’s four PD opponents to date (Woodside, Heritage, Kecoughtan, and Phoebus) are a combined 16-4. The Crabbers’ five remaining opponents are 6-18.
Still, this is the most successful program in state history, so standards are higher. Hampton hasn’t been 2-3 since 1965. And the critics are out in full force.
“It’s a little bit different territory,” Smith said. “All of a sudden we’re 2-3 … and everybody has a John Madden game or listens to (Jon) Gruden on TV is a coach.
"But we’ve got good kids. What else can you say? We’re not down. We’re like that little red train chug-chug-chugging to the mountain top.”