Panthers have allowed just 45 points all season

The Havelock High football team finds itself in an unusual position on Friday night with a road playoff game.

Havelock is scheduled to play Orange at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Hillsborough, which is located west and north of Durham and Chapel Hill.

“It’s going to be a long trip,” Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant said.

During Havelock’s run of four straight championship game appearances from 2011 to 2014, the Rams were rarely on the road. Havelock’s last road playoff game was in 2014, when the Rams beat Eastern Alamance 63-28.

Orange comes into the contest 12-0 after defeating Wilson Fike 48-7 in last week’s playoff opener. The Panthers have won with defense this year, allowing double-digit points to just one opponent this season. Orange has allowed just 45 points this year while recording five shutouts.

“I know they are really good defensively,” Bryant said. “Any time you give up 38 points in the regular season, you’ve got a pretty good defense.”

Junior linebacker Payton Wilson leads Orange with 106 total tackles on the season, including 13 sacks and one interception. Rodney Brooks and Eli Haithcock each have four of Orange’s 16 interceptions on the season. The Panthers have forced 22 turnovers in 12 games.

Orange’s offensive attack is mainly on the ground. Marvante Beasley is the Panthers’ leading rusher with 926 yards and 10 touchdowns, with Ryan Puckett contributing 421 yards and six TDs, and Morgan Paschal adding 460 yards and four scores.

Of quarterback Jackson Schmid’s 58 completions on the season, 16 have gone for touchdowns. He has thrown 10 interceptions on the year. Cody Evans is Orange’s top receiver with 14 catches for 349 yards and six touchdowns. Orange averages 34.8 points per game.

“They’re a good football team, and right now in the playoffs, you don’t expect to play any bad football teams,” Bryant said. “We’re excited about the challenge of playing an undefeated team.”

The two teams played in 2012 for the eastern regional championship, with Havelock taking a 42-7 victory on the way to its second of three consecutive state championships.