Rams' Beligotti thriving on offense, defense
HAVELOCK | Soloman Beligotti embraces contact.
The Havelock Rams’ junior doesn’t shy away from hitting an opposing ball-carrier or running through the line of scrimmage.
Beligotti, in his second full varsity season, has become an impact player for the Rams on both sides of the football, at linebacker and running back.
“When I get out there, I just want to hit people. I find anyone I can hit, and I hit them. It feels great,” Beligotti said. “I love hitting people, but running over people is fun too.”
Beligotti scored three times in last Friday’s 42-14 win over Burlington Williams in the first round of the NCHSAA 3-A playoffs.
Used primarily as a power back, a short-yardage tailback, he punched the ball in on touchdown runs of eight, three and one yard.
“The offensive line does a great job blocking,” Beligotti said. “If they put me back there, I just do my job and get yards, because that’s what I know the coaches want.”
Beligotti, listed at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, has eight rushing touchdowns on just 34 carries, as he shares the load with sophomore Cameron Hutchinson, junior Justin Hoover and senior Montrece Gatling.
When the Rams are within five yards of a first down, or from scoring, they’ve relied on handing the ball to Beligotti.
“He has great vision. For a big back, we’ve used him as our power back,” said Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant. “He’s doing a great job on both sides of the ball and starts on special teams.”
Even though he’s contributed in a big way on offense, his primary position is as a leader at the inside linebacker spot in Havelock’s 3-4 formation.
Beligotti is third on the team with 75 tackles. He has seven tackles for a loss and two interceptions.
“He has another year of experience. He’s gotten bigger, faster and stronger by being in the weight room,” Bryant said. “He’s done a great job at linebacker in reading what the other team is trying to do.
“He’s done a great job leading the defense. He’s very vocal. He’s a guy that makes the checks and calls from the linebacker position.”
Beligotti joined the varsity squad late in his freshman year. He only notched 39 tackles and four rushing scores last season as a sophomore.
“Defensive-wise, I’ve learned to make the right reads,” Beligotti said. “I’ve looked at the other linebackers through the years, I saw what they were doing right and what they were doing wrong, and then I had to correct my mistakes to build it up to where I am today.
“It feels great having a starting role at linebacker. I knew I had to come in and do my job. Being out there is a blessing.”
Havelock (11-1), the third seed in the East Region, plays at unbeaten Orange (12-0) in the second round on Friday.
The Rams are scoring 42.6 points per game, but Orange’s defense has allowed just 45 points all season (3.75 per game). Havelock’s defense has given up 11.4 points per game, while Orange’s offense is putting up nearly 35 points per game.
“It gets harder and harder every week. We are making adjustments every week and doing pursuit drills and getting to the ball,” Beligotti said. “We need to execute and everyone needs to do their job. I think we can beat them if we do our jobs.”
Adam Thompson is the sports editor at the Sun Journal. He can be contacted at 252-635-5669. Follow Adam on Twitter @A_ThompsonNBSJ