Havelock finishes 2016 with a 13-2 record
Heartbroken Rams collapsed on the field, tears filling their eyes. Their dreams of advancing to the state championship game ended, shockingly.
Rocky Mount threw a 99-yard touchdown pass with just 18 seconds left to tie the game, and then won in triple overtime, beating Havelock 34-33.
For the Rams, the game marked their seventh trip to the eastern regional championship in the last eight years, one of the accomplishments the players latched onto despite the loss.
“As a team, we had a lot of great accomplishments this year,” Havelock senior quarterback Corey Cooper said. “We didn’t come up with the goal of a state championship, but Rocky Mount’s a great football team and you have to give it to them. But we had a great season, and I’m very proud of the accomplishments and proud as heck of all the boys on this team.”
The Rams finished the season 13-2.
“Havelock is a legendary football program,” Cooper said. “I’m going to be gone. The seniors are going to leave, but Havelock’s going to stay a football town.”
Cooper is among some of Havelock’s key seniors, along with receiver Quinzel Lockhart, running back and defensive back Montrece Gatling, offensive lineman Howie Baldree, defensive linemen Destin Flloyd and Brandon Boyd, linebacker Kendall Frazier, and defensive backs Jeffrey Harris and Dominick Madden.
“We’re losing a great group of seniors,” Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant said. “Most of them have been players in our program for four years. We’re not only going to miss them as players, but we’re going to miss them as people and we’re going to miss them as leaders.”
Flloyd recovered a fumble and scored a touchdown with five minutes left in the game, giving Havelock a 17-10 lead.
“My four years here have probably been the best of my life,” Flloyd said. “I learned so much. Havelock made me who I am and it made me who I’m not. If it wasn’t for this school and wasn’t for this coaching staff and wasn’t for this team, I probably could have been anywhere, but I’m glad God kept me here, and I thank God for everything this school has done for me.”
Flloyd said Friday’s loss should serve as a lesson for the underclassmen.
“I wish that we would have come out on top, but everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I think this happened for a reason to show the underclassmen, the juniors, the sophomores and all that, that it all can’t be our way, that sometimes there’s going to be some backsteps, and this is one of them. But, I hope that next year and years afterward that they just go all the way.”
Havelock returns some key players for 2017 such as offensive lineman Avery Jones, running back Cameron Hutchinson, receivers Welton Spottsville and Khalil Barrett, linebacker Tyiyon Johnson, and defensive back Anthony Harris.
“We don’t have a game next week, but we’ve got a game next year,” Bryant said. “We’re going to get in the weight room and get back to work, and we hope to be back here next year hosting the eastern finals.”