Hampton Pirates Football 2014

It’s been two seasons since the Hampton Pirates finished their season with a winning record.

After going 3-7 in 2012, coach Donovan Rose was given a chance to right the Pirates' ship. While his team showed improvement, three losses by exactly three points earned the Pirates a 4-8 record. This lack of success resulted in Rose being fired in December.

Hampton has brought in former Winston Salem State coach Connell Maynor to lead the team. During his time at WSSU, Maynor was simply a winner. Maynor’s record in his four years there was an incredible 45-6. WSSU would also make the Division II playoffs three times under Maynor’s guidance.

The Pirates fans, coaches and athletic staff all hope that Maynor can bring that winning formula back to Hampton.

Hampton’s road to a winning season will not be easy. With a number of tough games on the slate,  the Pirates will have to fight their way into win column each week. While each game is vital, there are some that mean more than others.

Here are my five most important games for the Pirates this season.

1. Nov. 22 at Howard

Hampton Pirates Football 2014

It does not get any bigger. This is the game both sets of fans have circled on their calendars and trash talk about all year long.

The “Battle of the ‘Real HU’” ended in heartbreak for the Pirates last season. The double-overtime thriller saw the Pirates make up a 21-point deficit in the second half play. In the second overtime, the Pirates kicked a field goal, but gave up a touchdown to tailback Anthony Philyaw to give Howard the 42-39 victory.

When the Pirates make the trip up to D.C. this fall, revenge will be on their minds, for sure. If they want to win, they must be good closers and defend their leads when they have them. Defensive lapses in this one will result in a very long drive back to Southern Virginia.

2-3. Sept. 7 at No. 19 Richmond and Sept. 13 vs No. 20 William and Mary

Hampton vs William Mary

These are the two of the three games (for now) where Hampton will have chances to go up against ranked opponents. Not many experts are picking Hampton to win in either case, though.

But having nothing to lose could work out in Hampton’s favor. This allows them to play more freely while their opponents will have the pressure of keeping their Top 25 ranking in-tact.

Both teams will get Hampton’s best shot. This goes for William and Mary especially, as they will play Hampton in their home opener. Pulling an upset on either occasion will do wonders for Hampton’s confidence and morale going forward.

4. Nov. 1 vs Morgan State

Hampton vs Morgan State Football

This is a team Hampton could and probably should have beaten last year. Like the Howard game, they were down early, roared back to take the lead late but eventually gave up the lead with seconds remaining on the clock.

In addition to the defense stepping up, the whole team must be more disciplined. It is very tough to win when you are penalized 11 times for 83 yards.

As Morgan is predicted to finish 10th in the MEAC, this is one Hampton should be able win.

5. Nov. 13 vs Bethune Cookman

Hampton Bethune Cookman Football

If you want to win a conference, you have to be able to take down the top dog. In this season’s MEAC, this is Bethune-Cookman.

While they are not great at passing the ball, they can sure as heck run it. With 37 sacks, they also excel at getting to the quarterback.

This may be the Pirates' toughest game of the season. Not only are they ranked and slated to win the MEAC, but they also know Hampton as they play them almost every year.

If Hampton wants to avoid last year’s 42-12 disaster, the defense cannot give up 475 yards on ground and the offensive line must prevent their quarterback from being sacked eight times.

Improvements in these areas may give Hampton the chance they need to compete with the best the MEAC has to offer.

Those are my five games. What are yours? How do you think Hampton will do this season? Let me know what you think!


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