Havelock to play Rocky Mount in NCHSAA 3-A semifinals
HAVELOCK | The NCHSAA 3-A Eastern Finals are back in Havelock – for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.
After last year’s rare state semifinals away from Havelock, the Rams are seeking to clinch a return trip to the state championship game on Friday at home against Rocky Mount. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
“It’s a testament to our administrative staff, our assistant coaches and to our players,” Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant said. “It’s a great football community, I love coaching at Havelock and it will be a big-time atmosphere here on Friday night.”
Havelock (13-1), the No. 3 seed in the region, is one win away from advancing to its fifth state title game in six seasons.
Making it this far is an expectation that Bryant, who owns a 118-15 record in nine seasons, has instilled in the program since he took over the Rams’ head coaching position prior to the 2008 season.
“The thing we need to fight against is complacency, kids feeling entitled because we are at Havelock. We don’t just show up and people give us a ring,” Bryant said. “Every team we play practices just as much as we do, practices hard and they want to beat Havelock more than any team they play. We are everyone’s state championship game because we have been so successful over the past eight years.”
Havelock is 4-2 in state semifinals since 2009, and all of those games were played at home.
The Rams beat Eastern Wayne, 35-12, in 2014 before losing to Shelby Crest in the state championship game. They beat Eastern Wayne, Orange and Cleveland County the previous three seasons en route to state titles from 2011-13.
After getting ousted in the second round by Eden Morehead last season, Havelock is back on the cusp of returning to the state championship game.
The winner of Havelock’s clash against Rocky Mount will play either Hibriten (14-0) or South Point (10-4) at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17 at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem.
“I think, from top to bottom, our seniors have done a great job leading this team, from early season injuries to departures to everything else,” Bryant said. “I think they’ve taken on a really big leadership role to get us back to where we need to be, which is hosting the eastern finals at Havelock High School.”
Havelock’s defense intercepted five passes in last week’s 24-7 win over West Craven, and has given up just 28 points in three playoff games.
This season, the Rams have 18 sacks and have forced 48 turnovers – 24 interceptions, 24 fumble recoveries.
Junior Tyiyon Johnson has a team-high 98 tackles, Kendall Frazier has 89, Destin Flloyd has 95 and Solomon Beligotti has 82.
“The credit goes to the assistant coaches and to the players. Our assistant coaches did a good job coming up with a game plan,” Bryant said.
The Rams’ offense has given the ball away just once in the past six weeks.
Quarterback Corey Cooper has passed for 2,560 yards with 20 touchdowns to nine interceptions, while rushing for 764 yards and nine scores. Running back Solomon Beligotti has 13 rushing touchdowns, including five in the past two games.
“We’ve been preaching no turnovers and move the chains and that’s what we’ve done the past six weeks. I think we’ve had like one turnover in the past six weeks,” Bryant said.
Rocky Mount (12-2), the fourth seed, is the defending state champion after defeating South Point in overtime in last season’s state championship game.
The Gryphons are led on defense by South Carolina-commit Sherrod Greene, a linebacker, and defensive lineman Artavious Richardson, who has nine sacks. Detrell Revis has eight interceptions.
Offensively, running back Juane Daniels-Sanders has eight 100-yard rushing games, 1,296 yards and 15 touchdowns. DeAngelo Collins has 974 rushing yards with nine touchdowns and Charlie Williams III has 831 yards and seven touchdowns.
“They have athletes all over the field. They are big, fast and strong. They are what you expect to see in the eastern finals,” Bryant said. “We’ve charted them having like 38 different formations. They are a flexbone, Wing-T-type team. They have guys that can score anytime they touch the ball.”
About the Rocky Mount Gryphons
Head coach: Jason Battle
Record: 12-2 (Lost 37-25 to undefeated Middle Creek on Aug. 26 and lost 21-10 to Southern Nash on Oct. 28)
Common opponent: Rocky Mount beat Greenville Rose 66-41 on Sept. 16, a week after Havelock beat Greenville Rose 30-25 on Sept. 9.
Offense: Averages 32.2 points, 285.4 yards rushing and 77.6 yards passing per game
Defense: Allows 17.2 points per game, has forced 22 turnovers and recorded 30 sacks
Of Note: Rocky Mount won the state 3A championship in 2015, defeating South Point 24-21 in overtime.
Leading rushers: B.J. Sanders (1,296 yards, 15 TDs); Deangelo Collins (974 yards, 9 TDs); Charlie Williams III (831 yards, 7 TDs)
Leading passers: McKenzy Wright (674 yards, 3 TDs); Shabios Lynch (408 yards, 4 TDs)
Leading receivers: Kevjorick Edwards (45 catches, 685 yards, 4 TDs); Charlie Williams III (7 catches, 133 yards, 3 TDs)
Leading tacklers: Detril Revis (80 tackles, 8 INTs); Artavious Richardson (72 tackles, 9 sacks); Rod’Quan White (76 tackles, 6 sacks); Sherrod Greene (72 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries)
Adam Thompson is the Sports Editor at the Sun Journal. He can be contacted at 252-635-5669. Follow Adam on Twitter @A_ThompsonNBSJ