Charlotte Catholic football coach Mike Brodowicz employed a little boxing strategy against previously unbeaten Havelock in a 14-7 state championship win Friday night.
Havelock (10-1) came into the game outscoring opponents 52-9. Most of their wins had been early knockouts.
Brodowicz, in essence, wanted to see what would happen if he could get Havelock into the late rounds.
“I think we had the advantage, a little bit, of when Havelock goes through their season and nothing is ever close,” he said. “We played Havelock (four years ago in a 28-14 state title win), and they had very explosive players and (this year’s team is) very similar. And we said, ‘let’s keep them in front of us and tackle them.’”
Brodowicz’s plan was simple. He wanted to make Havelock -- a team full of big-play players used to making big-time plays -- have to take lots of time to move the ball down the field.
He wanted more jabs, and fewer haymakers.
“If they’re going to score,” said Brodowicz, whose team won its fourth straight state title and fifth in six seasons, “let’s make them drive 12-to-14 plays; in order to slow them down and take them out of their rhythm. Their offense is a couple plays, a couple plays, boom and go. They did that on their second drive after we scored.
“It takes your breath away.”
Down 7-0 on their second possession, the Rams covered 70 yards in four plays. And 46 of them came on a quick slant from sophomore quarterback Andrew Frazier (who’s going to be special) to senior receiver Kamron Hoover (who already is).
On the next play UNC recruit Kamarro Edmonds ran 19 yards down the right side.
A couple plays later, in an eye blink, the game was tied.
But other than that flurry, Havelock just didn’t do much. On three second half possessions, the Rams entered Catholic territory, but each time, the Cougars did their job.
For the game, Havelocked gained 201 total yards, averaging 3.5 yards per play. For Catholic, Liam Barbee -- the championship game MVP -- had 13 tackles. Connor Dougherty had 11. Kevin Dumser, William Dettmer and Tyler Mills each had 5.
“Throughout the year,” Barbee said, “we played in so many close games, and I remember one time, they had the ball at the 40 and I looked at Connor and I said, ‘We gotta step it up right now.’ That’s a testament to tradition. Our defense is used to stepping up in big spots and I think we did that.”