Thursday, December 29, 2011

Havelock's Bryant named AP coach of year for NC

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Jim Bob Bryant made sure his Havelock team had plenty of motivation after falling a game short of the state final the past two years. He even hung a big picture in the weight room showing an opponent celebrating after ending Havelock's season the previous year.

His players responded with an unbeaten season that helped make Bryant this year's Associated Press prep football coach of the year for North Carolina.

“We always found something to give a little extra motivation to our kids,” Bryant said. “My assistant coaches worked tirelessly and everything we do is a competition. We compete in practice and we compete in the weight room. My coaches do a great job of making everything a competition so the kids keep that edge and are always fighting to be No. 1 in everything we do.”

Bryant led the school to a 16-0 record and the Class 3-A championship in his fourth season. He earned five of 16 votes from sports writers across the state in results released Wednesday.

Tarboro's Jeff Craddock was second with four votes after leading his school to a third straight state title, while Swain County's Sam Pattillo was third with three votes after leading his team to the 1-AA crown.

Havelock had lost to Eastern Alamance in the state semifinals the past two seasons. Bryant and the coaches had a photo blown up of Eastern Alamance's postgame celebration on Havelock's field last season with the words “Never again” written across the bottom. It had literally hung over Havelock's players in the weight room ever since.

“We kind of used that as our rallying cry: never again would we lose in the eastern finals at Havelock,” Bryant said.

The Rams didn't leave much to chance. With an offense that averaged about 50 points and 470 yards per game on the year, Havelock romped through the state playoffs – the Rams had three straight 60-point performance – to reach the final. Then, facing three-time defending champion West Rowan, Havelock rolled to a 38-6 win for the school's second state title.

Bryant's award comes a day after Havelock became one of two schools to have two players make the 2011 AP all-state team for North Carolina.