Slump: it’s a word every athlete knows all too well and they all hate it.

Slump: it’s a word every athlete knows all too well and they all hate it.

Yet, it is almost a certainty they will encounter the vile beast at some point in their careers.

For Havelock senior running back Taylor Woods, he went through his slump at the beginning of this season.

He didn't get his first rushing touchdown until the season’s third game against Jones Senior and didn’t surpass 100 yards rushing until the sixth game against Richlands.

Nevertheless, Woods kept a positive mindset and is playing his best football with his team on the brink of a third straight trip to the state championship game.

During the regular season, Woods racked up 639 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. In three postseason games, he has 327 yards on the ground and six TDs.

“It’s just my senior year and the only way I want to go out is with another state championship,” Woods said.

Woods and his senior teammates are used to defeating things. As a group, the Ram seniors are 56-5 with a pair of state championships.

With regular and postseason statistics combined, Woods sits at 966 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns for the year, heading into Friday’s eastern regional championship against Eastern Wayne.

He’s already eclipsed last season’s totals of 757 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Those numbers accompany fellow senior running back back Derrell Scott, who has gained 1,848 yards on the ground.

Woods said he and Scott work for team success.

“We’re not a one-man team,” Woods said. “Everything we do and every win we get is a team effort. There’s never been any problem with us because we all contribute to our wins and none of us lets anything like that (sharing touches) bother us.”

While Scott has been drawing the eyes of major colleges, Woods has received his share of attention as well. He has collegiate offers from Kent State, Elon and Old Dominion, but has received letters and interest from East Carolina, Duke, Georgia Tech and other Division-I programs.

Through it all, he stays smiling and optimistic.

“Like I said, right now, I just know I have hopefully two high school games left and I want to win them,” Woods said. “With college, right now things are kind of slow, but after the season, I think it will pick up for me and I’ll think about it more.”

Jordan Honeycutt is a reporter for the Sun Journal.