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Hampton prepares for playoff action

Louis Raggiunti | Hampton Journal
Hampton's Trace McConnell is one of the team leaders who the Talbots will rely on as the team prepares for the opening round of the playoffs.

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Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Hampton football coach Jacque DeMatteo had just completed his film study of a tough loss against Mars to close the regular season, and he came to a conclusion that he shared with his team.

“We have got to change our mentality ... we have become the nail instead of the hammer,” DeMatteo said. “It started Monday with a focus on fundamental. We have to line up right, be more physical and establish the run.”

One nuance DeMatteo was not pleased with was how his running backs were meeting contact 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage, whereas the opposing backs were not meeting resistance until they were 3 yards past the line of scrimmage.

“We are going to play a team ranked higher than us, but we can't worry about that,” he said. “We have to keep that blue-collar mentality and take the battle to the opponent.”

Hampton has the players to compete with anyone.

Quarterback Nick Grabowski has improved a great deal since the early stage of the season. The receiving corps of Jon Floss, Eddie Edwards and Trace McConnell are as good as if not better than any in Class AAA. Hampton also has a strong runner in C.J. Arch, but the team knows it has to feed him as often as possible.

DeMatteo said he has come down harder than usual on the team but also commended it for being one of the 16 playoff squads.

“We limped in for the second year in a row, but we will rely on the leadership of players like Trace and Steve Dayton to lead the younger players.”

Although Hampton has a good set of receivers, DeMatteo wants to balance the attack and does not want to get into a situation where his team is one-dimensional.

Hampton will open the playoffs Friday, Nov. 1 on the road. The parings meeting was held after press time.

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