Havelock won in a 49-48 shootout last season
HAVELOCK | The Havelock Rams don’t take their non-conference opponents lightly.
Head coach Jim Bob Bryant said he wants his players “battle-tested” for when conference play and postseason action comes around.
The Rams, the top-ranked team in the latest Associated Press 3-A football poll, take on J.H. Rose, the defending NCHSAA 4-A Eastern champions, Friday evening in Greenville. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
This is after last week’s 37-7 win over New Hanover, last year’s state semifinal participant, and a 38-8 victory over New Bern, two years removed from a state championship.
“I hope that by the time we get to conference that we will be battle-tested,” Bryant said. “We play three traditional 4-A powers every year in New Bern, New Hanover and Rose. Between the three of them, they’ve played in the Eastern finals or state championships the past four years.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for our kids and hopefully it will get us ready to go for conference play.”
J.H. Rose lost to Charlotte Catholic, 27-20, in last season’s 4-A state finals.
With 30 seconds remaining, Havelock’s defense tightened up in last year’s 49-48 win over Rose.
The Rampants went for the two-point conversion, and the win, but the Rams made the stop.
“They run a lot of the same stuff that they did with (Cornell) Powell, but they don’t have just one guy the offense runs through,” Bryant said. “They have four now that can play.
“We are hoping to not have another shootout.”
Rose (1-1) doesn’t have Powell, who graduated and is playing in college at Clemson.
Still, according to Bryant, it still has a lot of talent.
Quarterback Ryan Goodwin has passed for 381 yards in two games with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Dontavies Harris has rushed for 362 yards with six touchdowns and Mydreon Vines has three touchdown receptions.
“Rose is the most explosive team we will have seen this year from top to bottom,” Bryant said. “Every receiver can score when they touch the ball. They have the best running back and quarterback that we will have seen this year.”
The Rampants won at Leesville Road, 54-48, in triple overtime last week.
Havelock (3-0) is playing on the road for the first time after opening the season with three-consecutive home games.
The Rams’ defense has given up 15 points and forced 11 turnovers.
“I like being on the road more than playing at home just because, for us being on the road, it’s more like a business trip,” Bryant said. “We have our pregame meal and it’s a business trip. I love playing road games.”
Senior quarterback Corey Cooper passed for 246 yards with two touchdowns and two more rushing scores against New Hanover. Running back Tony Sharpe has 372 rushing yards with four touchdowns.
“Corey Cooper had the best game of his career. That takes off a lot of pressure when he does that,” Cooper said. “We’ve talked about if we complete 60 percent of our passes and average 150 to 200 yards per game passing, then we shouldn’t lose a game because we have four guys that can play tailback that could probably start on any team in the East, led by Tony Sharpe.”
Tyiyon Johnson leads Havelock with 26 tackles, followed by Kendall Frazier’s 22. Destin Flloyd leads the Rams with 3.5 sacks.
Havelock Rams (3-0) at J.H. Rose Rampants (1-1)
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday
Where: Greenville, J.H. Rose High School
Coaches: Havelock – Jim Bob Bryant; J.H. Rose – Dave Wojtecki
Key players: Havelock – QB Corey Cooper, RB Tony Sharpe, WR Quinzel Lockhart, DL Destin Flloyd, DB Jeffrey Harris; J.H. Rose – QB Ryan Goodwin, RB Dontavies Harris, WR Mydreon Vines, LB Alex Nease, DE Jamie Gaskins
Adam Thompson is the sports editor at the Sun Journal. He can be contacted at 252-635-5669. Follow Adam on Twitter @A_ThompsonNBSJ