The sun rose on Saturday morning, just like Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant said it would.

The sun rose on Saturday morning, just like Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant said it would.

OK, I will admit that this was not some sort of brilliant coaching observation. The sun has been rising for thousands of years, so the odds were in his favor.

It may be a cliché and even considered a bit corny, but the sun did rise on Havelock Saturday morning. It rose on 53 players who lost a football game the night before. It rose on the coaching staff, the fans, the cheerleaders, the band, indeed on an entire community that often wakes to the morning light during the fall with football on their minds.

Havelock lost to Eden Morehead 42-35 in a second-round playoff game on Friday night. Just like that, the season was over.

Havelock was attempting to reach its seventh consecutive eastern regional championship game and a record fifth straight state championship game. Instead, the Rams have to settle for a 12-1 season that included another Coastal 3A Conference championship, their seventh in a row.

The Rams simply couldn’t tame the Panthers, a team that entered the contest on a roll with seven straight victories, a team that was seeking revenge after last season’s 49-10 loss to Havelock in the first round of the playoffs.

Eden Morehead quarterback Will Dabbs, who threw four interceptions in that playoff loss last season, accounted for all six Panther touchdowns on Friday night, throwing for three and running for three others.

After the game, Havelock players reacted, well, like one would expect. Many cried as they embraced teammates. Others collapsed on the ground with the reality that the season was over. Others simply looked stunned.

Others showed extreme class. Kenyatta Frazier and a couple of the other Rams made a special trip back to the Eden Morehead players and coaches, congratulating them again on a well-played game and wishing them well.

And then there was Bryant, thanking his players for their effort and applauding their fight through adversity, and for not giving up during the game, telling them that despite the loss, the sun would rise, that tomorrow would be a new day.

What else could he say? The Rams got beat by a team that executed an offense like few others can, keeping Havelock’s defense off balance with a variety of passes and run plays.

It’s easy to deal with success, and certainly Havelock has had plenty of that. In their last 77 football games, the Rams are 73-4, a record few other teams have ever achieved.

And after each of those victories, the sun rose. And so it was after Friday’s loss and every day since.

“I told them it’s like life,” Bryant said of what he told his players after the game. “Adversity strikes in life all the time. Hopefully some of the principles that they’ve learned here at Havelock High School and playing football in this program will help them be successful citizens in life. There’s going to be things in life that won’t go their way. Hopefully this football program will help them overcome that and they’ll be better people.”

There won’t be another football game this season, and for the seniors, there may not be another football game in their lives.

But, there will always be another sunrise, beautiful in its warmth and optimistic in its meaning. The sun did rise. The sun will rise. It will rise on a bunch of young football players who I hope will see that the light of success is not measured in one loss on a football field. It’s measured in what happens today, and it’s measured in what happens tomorrow — when the sun will rise again.

Ken Buday is the editor and general manager of the Havelock News. He can be reached at 444-1999 or at ken.buday@havenews.com.