It’s hard for the Havelock High football players not to see it. However, they have managed to ignore it.
Each week this season, the Rams have entered a Coastal 3A Conference game as a prohibitive favorite. After all, Havelock hasn’t lost a league game since falling to West Carteret on Oct. 29, 2010, a streak of 12 straight games. The Rams have won 27 of their last 29 games overall.
With that as a backdrop, the Jacksonville Cardinals are scheduled to visit Havelock at 7 p.m. Friday for homecoming. And, just as all the previous opponents during the winning streak, the Rams are ignoring talk that the contest — despite Jacksonville’s 6-2 record and 3-1 league mark — should be another easy victory.
"The coaches keep us focused," Havelock quarterback Pharoh Cooper said. "You can never take any team for granted or you can get beat. We just have to keep the momentum up and keep playing ball like we know how to play."
At 6-2, the Cardinals have clinched their first winning regular season since 2004. They’ve done it with defense. Jacksonville is giving up just 14 points per game after last week’s 23-21 victory over West Craven.
"They’ve got a really good defense, a really good defense," Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant said. "We’re going to have to play well on offense. It’s going to be a big test for our offensive line."
Havelock’s offense has rarely been tested this season. The Rams are averaging 45.6 points per game behind Cooper and Derrell Scott.
Cooper is 88 of 149 passing for 1,661 yards and 11 touchdowns. On the ground, the senior has 80 carries for 795 yards and 12 more touchdowns. Meanwhile, Scott has 827 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns on just 111 carries on the season.
A victory would move the Rams (7-1, 4-0) one step closer to a Coastal 3A Conference championship with only West Carteret and West Craven remaining on the schedule.
"We’re undefeated in the conference," Bryant said, "and we’re trying to finish the conference season on a high note."
Meanwhile, Havelock’s defense is shining as well. The Rams have surrendered just 8.8 points per game in four league contests, and 13.4 points per game overall. Many of those points have come when their games have already been decided.
Linebacker Andrew Ramirez leads the team with 51 tackles, while defensive lineman Harry Caldwell has 5 1/2 sacks. Jordan Cuthbertson has two interceptions and two fumble recoveries for a defense that has forced 18 turnovers.
The Rams gave up just 155 total yards in last week’s 41-7 victory over South Central.
However, it is homecoming week, with plenty of school activities, a pep rally and a parade all scheduled for this week at Havelock High.
"It’s homecoming and there’s a lot of distractions," Bryant said. "We’re going to have to really work to keep the kids focused."