(Chris Pobst, Staff)
"If they don't score, they can't win."
Hampton denied scoring better than anyone in the history of Sikeston High School soccer during the 2012 season. The senior's dominance in goal led to a stellar year ending with one of the most prestigious awards given to those at his position for the state of Missouri.
Hampton was named the Goal Keeper of the Year in Class 2 -- despite his team failing to make it out of the district tournament.
He's the first Sikeston player to be named as one of the four Player of the Year honorees. He's also the first Bulldog goalie to be chosen as a first team all-state selection.
"I didn't think I was going to get first team all-state," Hampton said after learning about the award. "I thought I might get second or honorable mention or something like that because we didn't get out of districts. But, I was really excited when I heard about it."
Although the district favorite, Sikeston ran into a season-ending road block when the Cape Central Tigers derailed their chances at defending their district crown.
Sikeston lost to the Tigers in overtime 1-0, but it did not deter voters from picking Hampton as Class 2's best goalie.
"It's a huge honor. It kind of caught me off guard," Sikeston head soccer coach Doyle Noe said. "Not because he's not deserving, but we didn't make it out of districts and there's quite a few goal keepers that are really talented in the state, specifically in the St. Louis area.
"For someone down here to win it, have a lack of exposure and not get out of districts to win that honor is pretty big."
Hampton set the Bulldogs' all-time record for shutouts at 14, eclipsing former teammate and friend, Michael Gipson's record of 13 from a season ago.
It's a record Hampton admitted he wasn't afraid to go after.
"I was going to either try and tie Michael's or beat it," Hampton said. "Me and Michael are real cool though. He would show me things that made him better and move him forward. The stuff that his college coaches taught him, he told me."
It was Hampton's first year as a varsity goalie, though he had been preparing for that position since his little league days.
Hampton's mother, who was his all-star coach when he was younger, basically raised him to be a goalie since his introduction to soccer. Hampton said he has been a goalie his entire life because of his mother.
"It's something that I've been doing forever," Hampton said. "My mom coached me when I was smaller and that's where I've played ever since."
During his sophomore and junior years with the Sikeston varsity, Hampton played as a defender and backup to Gipson.
"I think it being his first year at goal really adds to the honor he received," said Noe.
During some games, Hampton single-handedly kept or put his Bulldogs over the top by guarding the goal. Although athletic, Hampton's strength seemed to be his instincts. He was able to thwart shots by reading the offense and knowing what was coming his way.
"In my opinion, when you have the best goalie in the area you know it's going to be difficult for the other team to put one by you," Noe said. "You have that confidence that you might have a breakdown or two, put you know that he's going to come up with some really big saves to keep you in games. That sets the tone."
According to Noe, even when other players would be off their game or his entire team not playing to the best of their abilities, Hampton was his one constant.
"You're going to win some games even if you have some guys that have off games or your team isn't playing as well as you could because he's back there keeping you in," Noe said.
With Hampton deterring would-be scorers, the Bulldogs were able to set new heights in wins and area importance.
This season was the first time Sikeston, who finished with a school record 19 wins, was able to defeat Cape Central, Jackson and Notre Dame (traditionally the area's best teams) during the regular season which led to an undefeated season in the SEMO Conference and their first out-right conference title.
Hampton has been in discussion with both Drury and Hannibal Universities about a possible opportunity to play goalie at the college level. Hampton will be trying out with Hannibal in mid-January.
"We fought all year long," Hampton said about his final year with the Bulldogs. "Beating those teams and doing the things that we did was big. I wanted to end my senior year right, playing with all the guys and have a lot of fun."