Head coach Donovan Rose has a smart kid.
In the aftermath of a heartbreaking 23-18 loss to Bethune-Cookman University last Saturday, Rose felt disappointed. He was upset. His team had dominated the game going into halftime, only to bear the brunt of five turnovers in the second half. After a five-game winning streak followed by three straight losses, Rose, not surprisingly, has a chip on his shoulder.
His 11-year old son, D.J., didn't give him a chance to lick his wounds.
"You need to get over it," he said. "You need to go forward."
It is with that sage advice that Rose has vowed to win the next two games. The Hampton University team won't be champions, but at least they'll walk off the field with their pride intact.
"We have to finish strong," Rose said.
First up is a battle against Florida A&M Rattlers at Bragg Memorial Stadium in Tallahassee, where Rose and Co. will once again face off against former Hampton coach Joe Taylor.
"They've only lost once conference game," said Rose about his former mentor's team. "If they beat us and Bethune, they'll be #1. I'm not gonna let them get that goal."
Last year, the Pirates shutout the Rattlers 25-0. This year, the former underdogs are poised to win again, and despite last week's upset, Rose is excited.
"We ain't gonna win the championship, but we're going to smack you."
And Rose isn't the only one who shares that sentiment.
He is relying on his top players to see the team through to the end of a season marked by highs and lows.
Brandon Peguese, a linebacker from Greensboro, N.C., is one of Rose's trusted players. As the number three defensive player in the country in tackles, Peguese has just as much, if not more, ambition than his coach when it comes to winning these last two games.
"We want to finish as one of the best, if not the best, defense in the country."
It is that drive that Rose looks for in assembling his team.
"I want guys with ambition and goals."
To Rose, it seems, football is a collective effort. He thinks of his team as soldiers. In his staff office is a "death sheet," marking off Pirates who have died in gridiron battle.
"Football to me is a corporation," he said.
His first and second-string quarterbacks, David Legree and Herbert Bynes, have been plagued with injuries throughout the season, making their stake in the next two games seem shaky.
But, Rose doesn't have time to fret. There's an end goal in sight, and he repeats his son's words over and over again to remind him of that fact, even if it's not the resurrection to glory that he originally wanted.
"My next goal," said Rose, "is winning these next two games. I can live with it, but I'm not satisfied."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun