Perhaps the Havelock football players never felt so much pressure to win a game.
Sure, the Rams needed to beat Washington on Friday night to reach their fourth straight eastern 3A championship game.
But more importantly, a victory meant their coach would propose to his girlfriend, Colleen Ogles after the game.
After the 57-7 victory, Jim Bob Bryant did just that, with the help of the players he called his family.
Ogles, of Jacksonville, said yes.
“I told them if we lost, I wasn’t going to propose to her after the game,” Bryant said of his players. “They were all excited, but I said, ‘look, you better win or else I’m not going to propose tonight.”
After the game, Bryant was his normal self, telling his players they had one more game to win to reach the state title game. He also chastised his players for six dropped passes against Washington.
He hugged and kissed Ogles and sent her inside to the field house, where a dozen roses awaited and a note telling her to come back out to the field.
In the mean time, the players lined up on the field, each holding an individual message from Bryant to Ogles, such as “I love your sense of humor,” “I love that you’re a great mom,” “I love your family,” and “I love all your quirks.”
At the end of the line was Bryant, with five players each with a large sign spelling out the message “Colleen, will you marry me?”
Bryant then got down on one knee and proposed. Ogles responded with hug and kiss.
“I know that he would do anything for any of these kids, and I know he does a lot for me and my son,” Ogles said. “He makes time for us even through the football season, and he makes us an important part of his life as well as these kids. He loves where he’s at here, and I definitely say ‘yes.’”
Bryant said he had been working on the details of the proposal for 1 1/2 months and got help from the players, assistant coaches and player moms.
“I wanted the players involved because they’re like my family, considering how much time I put into football and how much the kids, the coaches and the community mean to me,” Bryant said. “She knows she’s not just marrying me. She’s marrying all of us.”
Ogles works as a manager at Duck’s Grill and Bar in Jacksonville, where the two met. She said the proposal was unexpected.
“I was very shocked,” she said. “Of course you talk about the future when you’re dating, what he wants and what I want. We’ve talked about it, but definitely I did not think it would happen during football season, that’s for sure. I thought that was the last thing on his mind because I live in Jacksonville and he lives in New Bern and coaches here, so we rarely get to see each other, and when we do it’s football this and football that.
“I thought if it was going to happen, that it would definitely be after football season, so I am very excited.”