HAVELOCK | To simulate New Hanover’s two-quarterback system, the Havelock Rams have been rotating their own two quarterbacks at practice.
Senior Corey Cooper is Havelock’s agile quarterback, while junior Zach Sabdo is more of a traditional drop-back passer.
The combination of the two gives the Rams’ defense different looks as they prepare for Thursday’s matchup with New Hanover at Havelock High.
“We just rep our two different quarterbacks in practice,” said Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant. “They’ve both been scout-team quarterbacks all week.”
New Hanover will play two quarterbacks – junior Francis Meehan, a more athletic quarterback, and pro-style quarterback Blake Walston, brother of North Carolina tight end Garrett Walston.
Havelock (2-0) dominated New Hanover, 42-0, in Wilmington last season.
Bryant believes this year’s Wildcat squad is much better.
“They are a much better football team right now at this point than they were last year at this point,” he said. “They have three guys on offense that can score every time they touch the ball. They play a two-quarterback system – one’s more of an athlete and one’s more of a passer.
“Those guys really make their offense go.”
Havelock scored 38 points in its first two games – wins over Washington and New Bern.
Running back Tony Sharpe has gained 292 yards in those games with three touchdowns.
“We are shuffling around some linemen, trying to find a good fit on the offensive line. We have to be able to do something besides just running the ball,” Bryant said. “Tony is a heck of a tailback, but teams are going to make us throw it to beat them. We have to start throwing the ball, running good routes and making good reads on offense to open up the running game.”
Defensively, the Rams have allowed just eight points and forced eight turnovers, including six in their 38-8 win over New Bern. Kendall Frazier returned a fumble for a score, Soloman Beligotti intercepted a pass and Havelock scored on four of New Bern’s turnovers.
“Our defense has been playing great. They’ve been keeping us in ballgames,” Bryant said. “Every time we get a turnover, it’s the offense’s job to get points off those turnovers.
“Our defense has been putting us in great positions. We need to continue to play really good defense to help our offense out.”
New Hanover (1-1) is coming off a 34-13 loss against Myrtle Beach.
The Wildcats’ tough non-conference schedule continues with games against Havelock and Scotland County.
They made it to the NCHSAA 4A East Region Finals last season before losing to J.H. Rose, 28-14.
“We need to limit their big plays on offense, they have a big-play offense,” Bryant said. “Offensively, we need to not turn the ball over. We need to stay on the field and move the chains and keep their offense off the field.”
Junior Wiz Vaughn is the big playmaker that has five touchdowns. Senior Lamont Howard is the team’s best receiver.
Defensive lineman Jomaious Williams, along with linebackers Grant Daley and Naseion Brown lead the defense.
“They have a lot athletes and they are big and physical and strong up front,” Bryant said. “This is their best team that we’ve played the past two years.”
New Hanover at Havelock
Where: Rams Stadium, Havelock
When: 7 p.m., Thursday
Coaches: New Hanover: Earl Smith; Havelock: Jim Bob Bryant
Key players: New Hanover: QB Francis Meehan, QB Blake Walston, RB/WR Wiz Vaughn, WR Lamont Howard, DL Jomaious Williams, LB Grant Daley, LB Naseion Brown; Havelock: QB Corey Cooper, RB Tony Sharpe, DL Destin Flloyd, DB Montrece Gatling, WR/DB Quinzel Lockhart.
Adam Thompson is the sports editor at the Sun Journal. He can be contacted at 252-635-5669. Follow Adam on Twitter @A_ThompsonNBSJ