Havelock High sports teams are entering a new era for the 2013-14 seasons. With state-mandated realignment every four years, the Coastal 3A Conference has changed dramatically for the upcoming season
Washington, D.H. Conley and South Central are gone, as the state adjusts leagues and school-size classifications based on the number of students for a more competitive balance. Swansboro and Richlands, both 2A schools last year, have increased enrollment such that they are now part of the 3A conference.
Perhaps the biggest impact will be on the soccer fields, where Swansboro and Richlands — located in the soccer hotbed of Onslow County — bring traditionally strong programs into the league.
But where most fans will see the impact is in football and the 2013 schedule.
Havelock’s football schedule includes some new non-conference opponents and an odd stretch of four straight home contests.
"It is not an ideal schedule, but we will have to try and survive the long road trips," Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant said.
The Rams are scheduled to open the football season Aug. 23 at Washington and follow that a week later with a road contest at rival New Bern.
Havelock has its first home contest in an endowment contest against Jones Senior on Sept. 6.
The Rams then hit the road Sept. 13 against Kinston before hosting Northside-Jacksonville on Sept. 20, the first of four straight home contests that includes three league games.
Havelock concludes the regular season with three straight road games at White Oak, West Carteret and West Craven wrapped around a bye week on Nov. 1.
Despite the odd schedule, Bryant is looking forward to the opponents.
"I think our non-conference schedule is very tough," he said.
One quirk about the schedule is Havelock’s three main rivalry games — New Bern, West Craven and West Carteret — are all on the road.
"No matter where we play those games it is going to be a challenge," Bryant said. "All three teams are very well coached and have good players. Home or away, they will all be great matchups as all games are."
As for the new-look conference, Bryant said the addition of Richlands and Swansboro should be interesting and would require preparation.
"We have no past game tapes of each opponent, so we will have to start from scratch on preparing for each team," he said.
The Rams are scheduled to hold their first official practice today.