Havelock won last year's meeting 41-14

A game that used to be played in the final week of the regular season will now be played as a season opener for the second consecutive year. 

The Havelock-West Craven series may not sound like it should be a week one game, but since the Eagles dropped down to 2A and the two are no longer conference mates, it's what the schedule presents.

Last year's opener, which ended up being a 41-14 Havelock victory, was tight until the fourth quarter when Havelock scored 20 unanswered points.

This year's game kicks off Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Vanceboro.

Both teams will look different this year. Both are starting new quarterbacks and both lost 1,000-plus yard rushers. 

"We want to obviously establish the run and move the chains," West Craven coach Mike Twichell said. "We just spent all summer talking about and focusing on us and what we can do to be better with our team. It's a good, big, important rivalry with them."

Havelock coach Caleb King had much of the same to say as his friend. 

"It's going to be another great game, one of the great rivalries in the state of North Carolina," Havelock coach Caleb King said. "Anytime you face a dynamic offense like theirs, it's going to be tough."

Havelock has reloaded and West Craven has added some talent too.

"It makes summer that much more important for us, playing probably the best team we'll play all year right at the start," Twichell said. "The big plays, penalties, turnovers - those things we can't have, they get magnified when you're playing a great team."

King said a lot of the same, that he expected a tough effort out of the Eagles and he's hoping to see continued improvement. 

"We saw a great improvement from our first scrimmage to our second and we'll be looking for great improvement from second one to Friday night," King said. "Emotions will be high, we have to prepare every week like it's our state championship week."

Jordan Honeycutt can be reached at 252-635-5670 or at jordan.honeycutt@newbernsj.com