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Reflecting on a disappointing year

Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) Football Head Coach Marty Favret took a few moments recently to reflect on the Tigers’ 2019 season in which they finished 1-9, including an 0-8 mark in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC).

“It was a real surprise,” Favret said of the year, which was his 20th leading the team. “I thought we felt we would be in the hunt like we’ve been the last few years. The usual things have happened when you don’t win games. Of course, we’d had injuries, but that happens, but really it’s just both sides of the ball, we just never really found a formula for success, and as the losses mount, it gets harder and harder, and we weren’t able to overcome it. Not that our kids didn’t try, it’s just we weren’t playing winning football, and it was really disappointing.”

The Tigers had not gone 1-9 since 1999, the season before Favret took over leadership of the team. H-SC finished last in the ODAC in 2019.

“We’ve been first or second 15 of the last 19 years, so we’re used to being at the top of the league, and the expectations from the alums and from me are that that’s where we should be,” Favret said, “so there’s a lot of frustration, but the season’s behind us, and we’re trying to move on to bigger and better things.”

He said his team’s best performance of the year came in the 27-24 overtime road win against Christopher Newport University on Sept. 14

“That was the game we won, and that was a heck of a win, a tough place to play and a dramatic ending,” he said. “That’s the first time we’ve been able to beat them in four years, so it was good to end that rivalry with a ‘W.’ And we played well here at home down the stretch, we just came up short in some games.”

Citing a Pro Football Hall of Fame coach, Favret added, “Bill Parcells says, ‘You are what your record is,’ so we need to look (at) that and acknowledge it, and that’s my job to improve things here.”

Studying game film will happen, but something else is paramount at this time of the year.

“Right now a thousand percent of our focus is on recruiting,” Favret said. “We got out the Monday after the (Randolph-)Macon game, and we need to go bring some players in, and that’s our focus right now. We’ll have plenty of time to digest the things we need to improve on, and that’s my job, but I wanted to see our seniors off in an appropriate way, and right now we’re just out pounding the pavement, trying to get some kids to come play football here.”

Hampden-Sydney primarily featured Clay Vick at quarterback in 2019, with Austin Murphy logging some time as well. Both players were seniors, so the coach affirmed that the position is a priority in recruiting right now.

“We have a young man here that we like, but yeah, we’re going to try to bring in some quarterbacks, and we have some different options there, but yeah, that’s got to be a focus because both Clay and Murph were seniors, and we’ll need to bring somebody new in, and I’m excited about that,” he said.

When the All-ODAC football honors were announced, the Tigers were represented with six selections, including two on the first team: senior wide receiver Major Morgan and junior placekicker Rhett Andersen.

Senior offensive lineman Andrew Grage made the second team, and making the third team were senior linebacker Griffin Davis, junior defensive lineman Phil Pullen and sophomore running back Kaleb Smith.

Reacting to the six selections, Favret said, “It’s not what we’re used to, but it’s what you expect when you finish at the bottom of the standings, so certainly Major Morgan being first team even though his numbers were down is a credit to how well-respected he is by the coaches in our league. And of course, Rhett had a real good year as a kicker. So kudos to those guys, and yeah, I think it was certainly fair. I’d like to have seen Griffin Davis a little higher up, but our defensive numbers weren’t good, so that’s what happens.”