New Bern, Havelock to meet for 47th time

HAVELOCK | In each of the past seven clashes, the visiting team stunned the home crowd.

Havelock head coach Jim Bob Bryant understands the emotions that come with playing football. Against rival New Bern, the emotions intensify.

“In football, you’d rather have a bunch of crazed dogs you have to calm down than a bunch of choir boys you have to fire up every Friday night, so they’ll be ready to play,” Bryant said. “They know football is about controlled aggression. We tell them that all the time.”

Havelock (1-0) plays host to Craven County rival New Bern (0-1) at 7 p.m. Friday night.

New Bern holds a one-game lead in the series since 1964 – 23-22-1.

Since 2007, the programs have combined for six state championships, and since 2002, they played in 10 state finals.

“We are two good teams and two good programs and good coaches come through there,” said Steve Lovett, New Bern’s Associate Head Coach.

The last time the home team won was in 2008 when the Rams won 12-8 in Havelock. Since then, the visiting team has had the success.

Havelock won last year, 41-6, and New Bern won in 2014, 25-21.

“It’s Havelock and New Bern, so I know the Havelock side will be packed,” Bryant said. “Heck, the Havelock side was almost packed the other night (Saturday against Washington) when it was pouring down rain.

“We’re hoping for a playoff-type atmosphere. Whether New Bern’s 0-1 or 1-0, it’s still Havelock-New Bern. It’s still a big rivalry game, and right now it’s the biggest game on our schedule because it’s the next one.”

The rivalry means just as much to New Bern.

“It means a lot,” said Bears’ senior running back D.J. Howard. “When I was in middle school, we couldn’t beat them. I got to 10th grade and we beat them. We have to beat them.”

New Bern lost its opener at Durham Hillside, 20-14, last week when it allowed the game-winning touchdown with five minutes remaining.

Howard and Davon Knight combined to rush for 117 yards with a touchdown and quarterback Dee Becton completed 5-of-7 passes for 63 yards and added a 9-yard touchdown run.

“They’re 0-1, but they played a really good Hillside team. They’re well-coached,” Bryant said. “They’re New Bern, so they have a lot of speed. We’ll change up a few things this week to try to be more successful offensively.”

Havelock blasted Washington, 38-0, last Saturday despite losing three fumbles.

Quarterback Corey Cooper, playing his final game against New Bern, completed a touchdown pass to Khalil Barrett and later scored on a 30-yard run.

“I’m excited. Being my senior year and going against a big rival, that’s something to really look forward to,” Cooper said. “We’ve got to get things tuned up and get ready for New Bern.”

Havelock’s defense dominated. Dominick Madden and JohnQuarious Hatten recovered fumbles for Havelock, and Tyiyon Johnson partially blocked a punt.

“It’s the same old Havelock. They have a great offense and they are great on defense,” Lovett said. “We have to be determined, be physical and play football. We have to cut down on the penalties and mistakes. Coach Bryant does a good job of getting his players to play hard. We have to match their intensity.”

New Bern at Havelock

When: 7 p.m., Friday

Where: Havelock

Coaches: New Bern: Bobby Curlings (11th season); Havelock: Jim Bob Bryant (9th season)

Series record: 23-22-1 (New Bern)

State championships: New Bern: 2007, 2012, 2014; Havelock: 1971, 2011, 2012, 2013

Key players: New Bern: RB D.J. Howard, RB/DB Dionshay Cherry, RB Davon Knight, QB Dee Decton, WR/DB Daniel McKoy; Havelock: QB Corey Cooper, RB Tony Sharpe, WR/DB Jeffrey Harris, RB/DB Montrece Gatling.

Adam Thompson is the sports editor at the Sun Journal. He can be contacted at 252-635-5669. Follow Adam on Twitter @A_ThompsonNBSJ