Senior safety's three picks helps Havelock's advance

HAVELOCK | Jeffrey Harris, for a quick moment, thought about flying in after the quarterback.

Instead, Havelock’s senior defensive back dropped back and picked off a pass in the final seconds to secure the Rams’ 14-7 win over Orange last Friday in the second round of the NCHSAA 3-A playoffs.

“We thought he was flying up to hit the quarterback, then all of a sudden, he shows up and intercepts the pass. He’s a good kid and a heck of a football player,” said Havelock football coach Jim Bob Bryant.

Harris, playing at strong safety, intercepted three passes in the game, but none were bigger than that final one. He snagged the interception in the end zone and the Rams advanced to the third round where they will play at rival West Craven on Friday.

Harris has four interceptions this season.

“It’s just another highlight to my highlight reel,” Harris said. “It felt really good. I knew they were keying in on one player. Me getting depth and getting over top of him was a big part of it.”

Harris has played safety on varsity for three seasons and is regarded as the Rams’ hardest hitter.

He has more than 30 tackles and patrols the middle of the field.

“He’s a heck of a high school safety,” Bryant said. “He is one of the hardest hitters we’ve got. He’s an enforcer if anything gets caught over the middle. He has great ball skills.”

Playing strong safety, Harris has had to improve on his leadership skills.

Off the field, he jokes around with his teammates. On Friday nights, he motivates and lifts them up.

“It’s a big role,” Harris said. “You have to be loud on the field, talk on the field and communicate and let everyone know what’s going on back there.

“My goal is to be a leader on this team, to be the one that brings people up when they are down. If we are losing, I need to be the one that helps keep people up and focused.”

Havelock, with a 12-1 record, has advanced a step further in the postseason than it did last season.

Harris attributes that to the drive and dedication from the seniors, as well as an assist from the defense that is allowing opponents to score just 11 points per game on them.

“Our defense is much better. We are eager, we really want it this year. We have to stay focused and stay hungry,” Harris said. We have a lot of motivation. We are trying to get past this game, but we are taking it one game at a time.”

The Rams, the No. 3 seed in the East, will play at undefeated West Craven (12-0) with a trip to the state semifinals on the line.

West Craven is scoring 45.5 points per game.

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