Havelock rising senior Matt Boykin donned his Captain America-themed receiving gloves before the Rams’ first contest in Saturday’s “Beast of the East” 7-on-7 tournament at East Carolina University.
The 5-foot-5 dynamo dazzled with performances almost superhuman-esque that made him appear more like 6-foot-5. Boykin snagged touchdown after touchdown from quarterback Travis Sabdo and outjumped hoards of guys much taller to wow onlookers.
Havelock went a perfect 7-0 on the day, including a 38-35 win over Southern Durham, which ousted the Rams from NCPreps’ 7-on-7 tourney a year ago.
“It feels good to be here at ECU and playing well in front of people and to get that championship and revenge against Southern Durham,” Boykin said. “They beat us up in Wake (County) last year and we wanted them. As for me, everyone has always overlooked me because of my size, but I just put my head in the game and play like I’m six feet tall.”
Boykin wasn’t the only star for the Rams Saturday as Jordan Begley, Micheal Bowman, Kyran Bowman, Trey Owens and Tony Sharpe all had huge catches at clutch times.
Havelock defeated three teams twice on the day in addition to taking down Southern Durham.
“I’m happy with how my guys competed today and battled through fatigue and minor injuries,” Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant said.
Havelock defeated Green Run (Virginia Beach, Va.) in the opening game of pool play, then defeated Wide Receiver University, a travel team made up of all stars from across Virginia in the second round, before defeating Jack Britt to round out pool play.
After a lunch break, the teams resumed play in a single-elimination tournament style competition.
The Rams were the No. 3 seed and began by beating Jack Britt and Wide Receiver U again, before setting up the showdown with No. 1 seed Southern Durham.
After Havelock scored the go ahead touchdown in the waning minutes, the defense led by a deflection from Kyran Bowman, held strong to deny the Spartans and quarterback Kendall Hinton, who has committed to play at Wake Forest.
In the championship game, Havelock met Green Run again, who had upset the No. 2 seed Kings Fork out of Suffolk, Va.
Trailing and on their last gasp, Sabdo found Micheal Bowman for a toe-tapping score in the back of the end zone for the championship.
“Everybody just played hard and really well for us today,” Bryant said. “Our four secondary guys led by Austin Ellington and Trey Owens were very solid. We made a lot of pressure plays today too, which speaks to toughness, and got the stops and big plays when we had to have them.”
Havelock is scheduled to participate in the National Select 7-on-7 Championships in Hoover, Ala., from July 17 to 19. Bryant said the trip with hotel and bus costs will run the team around $8,000.
Jordan Honeycutt is a reporter for the Sun Journal.