Rams' Tyiyon Johnson, Kendall Frazier are forces to be reckoned with on the field

HAVELOCK | Tyiyon Johnson and Kendall Frazier roam the middle of the field seeking to punish whoever has the football.

Johnson, a junior, plays outside linebacker in Havelock’s 3-4 defense, while Frazier, a senior, lines up at inside linebacker. The tandem leads Havelock in tackles.

“You have to always be aware and be aggressive. You have to always do the right thing, do your job and set an example,” said Johnson, listed at 6-foot-3, 208 pounds.

Johnson has a team-high 98 tackles to go along with 5 1/2 sacks, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and a defensive touchdown. He had seven tackles and three quarterback hurries in Havelock’s 24-7 victory over West Craven in last week’s third-round playoff game.

Frazier has 89 tackles, a sack, two fumble recoveries and a defensive score. He caught his first pass of the season – a 27-yard gain – and registered 10 tackles last week.

“We just have to be physical against the run. Anyone holding the ball, you have to punish,” Frazier said. “We just have to do our jobs.

“As long as everyone else does their job, we get after the tackles. We have to do our job by making tackles, making stops.”

The Rams (13-1), the No. 3 seed, play host to Rocky Mount (12-2) on Friday for the Eastern Regional Championship game, one victory away from making it to the state championship game for the fifth time in the past six seasons.

“Freshman year, when we made it to states and won, it felt good. Sophomore year, when we lost, we’ve been hungry since then,” Frazier said.

Johnson and Frazier have been key pieces to a Ram defense that gives up 10.8 points per game this season.

“Both of them are really good football players,” said Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant. “They are hard workers and get after it in practice. They are both hard to block and they run around and make plays.”

Frazier had only 27 tackles as a junior last season, while Johnson had even less than that as a sophomore.

Johnson said he worked on becoming more physical in the offseason.

“I’ve gotten more physical and more aggressive,” Johnson said. “Last year, when I tackled, I arm-tackled. Now, I’m really hitting and putting pressure to them.”

Frazier worked to improve his speed and mental toughness.

“I feel like I am faster and I hit harder,” Frazier said. “You have to be tough, mentally tough and physically tough at this position.”