|Hampton sets sail in new football territory and league affiliation|
|Pirates jump MEAC ship for Big South Conference|
|Published Wednesday, July 25, 2018 10:49 am|
Hampton football has a year to prepare for the Big South Conference.
The Pirates play as an independent this season, after announcing their departure from the MEAC, where they were a member since 1995. Hampton finished 6-5 last season and tied for third in the MEAC at 5-3.
“Any time you have preparation for something, you do better,” said first-year head coach Robert Prunty. “It gives us an opportunity to sit back and watch how the Big South teams play, and give us a better understanding before we jump right in to it.”
They join a conference, which Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander pointed out, has 10 playoff wins in the last eight years. Preseason rankings have Kennesaw State and Monmouth picked to finish first and second respectively. Hampton lost in overtime to Monmouth 30-23 last season. They are scheduled to meet again on Sept. 8. Hampton also faces future conference opponents Charleston Southern on Sept. 29 and Presbyterian on Oct. 13. The Pirates open against Shaw at home on Sept. 1.
“It widens the Hampton brand to be in the Big South,” Prunty said. “The Big South is a great conference. You’ve got two teams in Kennesaw State and Monmouth who made the playoffs. This is a great time for Hampton University football.”
Prunty expects the Pirates to play a physical and versatile brand of football.
“Our style is going to be physicality,” Prunty said. “As far as offense goes, we’ll spread it out, but we’re also going to run the ball. We’ll be 50-50. I want to keep us as balanced as possible. When it comes to defense, you might see a three-man front, and you might see a four-man front. We want to be physical. We want to blitz you. At times, we’re probably going to bring the house at you. We want to have fun. I want these guys not to play tight—I want them to play loose on defense.”
Prunty looks to senior safety Chaka Diarrassouba to lead during the transition.
“I call him a savvy veteran,” Prunty said. “He’s captain, and he understands that he has to bring some young guys on with him. He’s been playing that role the way he should.”
Said Diarrassouba, who had 34 tackles last season: “With us being independent this year, we’re still blessed to have three Big South teams on the schedule. Even though we’re not in contention for any conference accolades, or anything of that sort, those three teams still lay the groundwork for what we will possibly do in the conference for the years to come. We feel as if all of this is just a stepping stone into a better future.”
Senior quarterback Delmon Williams started all 11 games for the Pirates last season. He completed 135-of-256 passes for 1,757 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also had 112 carries for 256 yards and three touchdowns; ranked third on the team.
“He’s just an athletic guy,” Prunty said. “Not only can he throw the ball, but he can run the ball. His personality is real calm, and I like that, because you don’t want a guy who is all over the place—especially at quarterback, because the offense is going to play like him.”
Said Williams: “Joining the Big South offers us more exposure—better opportunities for the football players, and the school as a whole.”
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