Havelock has won three state titles in his nine seasons

HAVELOCK | When Jim Bob Bryant took over Havelock’s football program, the Rams had won just seven games over the previous three seasons.

Since 2008, when he was named head coach, the Rams have become one of the most prominent high school teams in the state.

Bryant, who recently wrapped up his ninth season at Havelock, told his players Tuesday afternoon that he has resigned from his position.

“He had to make a hard decision that was best for his family,” said Havelock senior defensive back Montrece Gatling.

Bryant will finish the semester at Havelock High before taking over the head coaching job at Freedom High School in Morganton.

In those nine seasons leading the Rams, Havelock played in seven eastern championship games and won seven conference championships.

He took the program to a new level, winning the school’s first state title since 1971 in 2011.

"I'm sad to see it happen obviously because he's a heck of a coach who teaches his players more than just football," said former Havelock offensive lineman Donnie Richards, who finished his senior season at West Virginia Wesleyan. "I still keep in touch with him today and I wish him the best of luck."

Havelock defeated West Rowan, 38-6, for the NCHSAA 3-A state championship in Chapel Hill that year. The Rams’ dynasty continued with state titles in 2012 and 2013, while dropping the 2014 state championship game to Shelby Crest.

“I was surprised, but what he told us was understandable,” said Havelock senior wide receiver Quinzel Lockhart. “At the end of the day, family is key and you gotta do what you gotta do for your family to have a better life.

“The next coach to come to Havelock has huge shoes to fill and I’m wishing him (Coach Bryant) the best in his future for football and with his family.”

Bryant has compiled a record of 118-16 at Havelock.

“Coach Bryant was like a mentor to me. He always wanted the best out of everybody and I wish him nothing but the best at Freedom,” said former Havelock lineman Kendal Vickers, who now plays in college at the University of Tennessee.” He will always be family in my eyes.”

This past season, despite not winning the conference for the first time since 2008, the Rams made it to the eastern finals and were seconds away from a trip to the state finals.

Havelock lost in the state semifinals, 34-33, in triple overtime to Rocky Mount.

Bryant is set to take over the Freedom Patriots, an NCHSAA 3-A program that finished 6-6 this past season.

“It’s surprising but he had a decision to make to better himself and his family and I respect him and love him for that,” said Havelock senior defensive lineman Destin Flloyd.

Bryant has assisted in many of his former players getting to the next level, guys like Pharoh Cooper (South Carolina), Corey Robinson (South Carolina), Derrell Scott (Tennessee/East Carolina), among others.

“I have nothing but love for Coach Bryant and what he did for Havelock,” said Jordan Cuthbertson, a former Havelock Ram now playing at Guilford College.

Havelock’s football program was in a lull prior to Bryant’s arrival, and then catapulted to a new level.

“I’m glad for what he has done for me in my four years at Havelock football and I’m glad for what he did for the city and I’m glad for what he has done for the program,” Lockhart said.

 

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