DOVER — Kenny Carter took the temperature of his locker room after Delaware State’s loss on Saturday to Florida A&M.
The Hornets were as down as he has seen during his tenure.
The losing is starting to take its toll on this young team. Delaware State is 0-6 on the season and dropped to 0-3 in the MEAC after a 41-27 loss to the Rattlers.
The Hornets went through this last year in Carter’s first season at Delaware State. It took them until the season finale to get that elusive first victory.
But Carter said the mood among the team was different last year. The Hornets brought in close to 50 new players for 2016 and all but 12 players on the current roster were recruited here by Carter.
So the players’ investment in the rebuilding of the DelState football program is a lot stronger than what it was a year ago.
“You can tell it’s hurting them now,” Carter said. “Last year you could tell it didn’t hurt them at all. We didn’t have guys who were invested. That’s why we did all the changes that we did. But these guys, it means something to them. We have to believe that we can go win a game.
“My heart hurts right now,” Carter added. “And their hearts are hurting.”
Delaware State’s next chance to earn its first victory is Saturday with a trip to South Carolina State (2-0 MEAC, 2-3 overall) at 1:30 p.m.
It will be a homecoming of sorts for Carter. He grew up near South Carolina State’s campus and attended some of its games.
This will be Delaware State’s first visit to South Carolina State since 2011.
The schedule isn’t doing any favors for the Hornets. Of their final fives games, three are against the top-three teams (South Carolina State, North in the conference — all of whom are undefeated in the MEAC.
The two best opportunities on paper are next week at Bethune-Cookman, which is tied with Delaware State for last place in the MEAC at 0-3. Then there’s the season finale against Howard, the only team DelState was able to beat in the regular season a year ago.
Carter was realistic last season about it being a transition year and hoping to put in place the new system. He didn’t want to classify this year as another transiton season or even a rebuilding one, but did point out that the future looks brighter.
The Hornets will return practically their entire team in 2017, graduating just three starters on both sides of the ball. Another positive is that a Delaware State player has won the MEAC Freshman of the Week award each of the last three weeks between freshman running back Mike Waters and freshman wide receiver Fatu Sua-Godinet.
“It’s disheartening in a lot of ways but when it comes to starters there’s only really three guys who won’t be back,” Carter said. “So that right there is encouraging.”
Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at firstname.lastname@example.org