HAMPTON — When it came down to the Hampton High program over the past few seasons, a question loomed over the team as to when its first postseason trip would come.
That question was finally answered two weeks ago. It was a tough season for the Hornets, who had to battle through their own adversity. But the coaching staff remained solid and the team continued to rally.
The biggest loss of the season — 8-7 to North Clayton — almost derailed postseason hopes, but the journey is not over yet for head coach Chad Ashley.
“I don’t know if it is a weight off my shoulders as much as it is a genuine happiness for our kids who stuck it out at a new school and kept grinding to make it to the playoffs,” Ashley said. “Especially in a day where if there isn’t instant gratification, people leave or quit.”
Ashley and the Hornets have been together since the beginning. In 2014 when the school first opened its doors, Ashley was there and witnessed the growth of the team.
From having no seniors in the program and playing a varsity schedule, to moving into AAAAA back into AAAA, every step of the way for Ashley has been an experience.
When asked how proud he was of the program, there weren’t any words that could truly describe it. He just knows that his team didn’t take any shortcuts to get to where they punched their own ticket to the postseason on their own merit.
It took a lot of learning to get to this point.
“A lot of learning about what it truly takes to get to the playoffs. All the time and work that must be put in on and off the field,” Ashley said. “Understanding that every rep matters and that you play like you practice. We still haven’t arrived and must be more consistent with our play but man I am so proud of how far these kids and our football program have come. It is a true testament to all the work our kids and coaches have put in. It truly is a privilege to have been a part of this journey with such outstanding young people.”
Even though this season isn’t over, there is always time to look to what the Hornets could do as they continue to build into their future.
“As far as the future is concerned, I hope this propels this program further down the road,” Ashley said with the smile known around the Hampton area. “It needs to create an excitement, desire, and hunger in future teams to really commit and invest so they can be better than the previous team and start a winning tradition and mentality here at Hampton.”