Havelock High football coach Jim Bob Bryant had a problem, one of the few he’s had guiding the Rams to back-to-back state championships.
He planned to show a highlight video of the 2012 season during Havelock’s Night of Champions Ring Ceremony Wednesday night at the school.
“When you score close to 50 points a game and you give up eight points a game, there’s a lot of highlights,” he told the crowd gathered for Wednesday’s ceremony.
Instead, he condensed a 35-minute video package down to about 10, with those attending reacting with oohs to the big defensive hits and wows for each dazzling touchdown run. The final highlights were of Havelock’s 55-21 victory over Concord on Dec. 1 as the Rams captured the 3A state championship at Wake Forest’s BB&T Stadium in Winston-Salem.
“I look back at it a lot, probably every day,” senior lineman Kendal Vickers said of the 15-1 title season. “It’s been fun playing with all these guys. When you look back at it, it feels good. I kind of want one more time to play with all of them again.”
During the ceremony, Havelock varsity players received their championship rings, which were paid for through donations from the public and the sale of state championship shirts and sweatshirts. For some of the players, it was their second ring after the 2011 football team went 16-0 and beat West Rowan 38-6 for the state 3A title.
“These guys the last two years did something that’s tough to do in the state,” Bryant said. “Not only is it tough to win a state championship, but it’s very tough to go back-to-back and win two.”
Senior quarterback and safety Pharoh Cooper, the most valuable player of the state championship game, said the one thing he would take from the season was how the players came together after a 34-33 loss to New Bern in the second week of the season.
“We had faith after that New Bern game,” Cooper said. “Coach (Bryant) always talked to us about playing with confidence, having faith in the Lord, trusting your teammates and doing your job. Everything just came together and we played with that winning mentality.”
Team captains Cooper, Vickers, Harry Caldwell and Derrell Scott each had a chance to speak during the ceremony.
“Ever since freshman year when we started on JV together, it’s been a fun ride,” Vickers said. “I never thought we were going to be this good.”
Scott thanked the fans who came out to all the games.
“You gave us a great home crowd to play in front of,” he said. “You really make the games for us, having a great crowd and knowing that we were going to have the momentum. I really appreciate that.”
Caldwell held up his new ring to the crowd.
“Do you all see that,” he asked, drawing cheers. “It’s been a fun four years. Everybody out there is like a brother.”
Assistant coach Caleb King took the microphone and asked the players to look at their rings and remember a phrase he told them often in practices and during games – to do their jobs.
“Look at your ring,” he told them. “You did your jobs.”
Not only was the varsity’s season celebrated, but also that of the junior varsity, which went 10-0 for the second straight season.
“It’s very tough to have two undefeated JV seasons,” Bryant said. “A lot of teams raid their JV to have sophomores fill out the varsity, but our JV coaching staff did a great job getting our JV players ready game in and game out, so the way it looks right now, our future is very bright with our football program at Havelock High School.”
Along with trophies and rings, the junior varsity and returning Rams also received something else: a spring and summer workout schedule.
That was just fine with Scott, who already has his eye on a third championship ring.
“I’m coming back next year, so you know we’re going to get this third one,” Scott said to the applause of the crowd.
After thanking all those who support the players and program, Bryant had the final words of the night.
“Before we adjourn,” he told the crowd, “I just want to let you know that we’ll be back here same time, same place next year getting our third ring.”