HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – Though seven of Hampton’s opponents this season received votes in the first AFCA FCS Coaches Top 25 Poll this season, Hampton coach Robert Prunty believes his team will be able to compete and surprise some opponents as the Pirates move into their second season in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Hampton lost its last five games last season, but it was able to keep pace with the nation’s best. Prunty said his players are close to a breakthrough.

“It gives us opportunities to upset seven teams,” Prunty said. “I’ve had more phone calls about this schedule than in my whole coaching career. I think it’s an opportunity for us to prove ourselves.”

Among the Pirates’ opponents, three are ranked in the top 25, including No. 4-ranked William & Mary, No. 16 Richmond, and No. 21 Delaware. In addition, four Hampton opponents also received votes, including Elon (30th place), North Carolina A&T (37th), Howard (44th), and Campbell (48th).

The CAA is well-represented in the AFCA Coaches Poll, with nine teams receiving votes in the AFCA Coaches Poll. In addition to William & Mary, Richmond, Delaware, Elon, North Carolina A&T, and Campbell. The others receiving votes include New Hampshire (12), Rhode Island (23), and Villanova (49).

Hampton opens the 2023 campaign on Sept. 2 when the Pirates travel to Harrison, N.J. to take on Grambling State. Prunty said he hopes the work on the sled and in preseason practice will bode well when the games get challenging and the Pirates need a breakthrough.

“That gives them a chance to get down there and build that brotherhood,” Prunty said, “so when we get in that game, and it’s fourth-and-1, and we’ve got to make that play, or we’re on defense, and we’ve got to stop it on fourth-and-1, those guys go through those tough times together when they’re driving that sled, and they understand, ‘I’m tired, but I’ve got one more play.'”

James Kattato has more in the video preview above.