High School Sports

Charlotte Catholic converts critical plays, beats Havelock for 3A state title

Charlotte Catholic running back Milan Howard (left, file photo) was named game MVP with 160 yards rushing and 20 receiving in Saturday’s NCHSAA 3A state championship.
Charlotte Catholic running back Milan Howard (left, file photo) was named game MVP with 160 yards rushing and 20 receiving in Saturday’s NCHSAA 3A state championship. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte Catholic had plenty of confidence in its ability to move the football in fourth-and-short situations on Saturday.

So too, did Havelock, but the Cougars were just a couple of plays better at it.

Milan Howard rushed for 160 yards while Lamagea McDowell added 53 yards and two rushing scores as the Cougars emerged victorious with a 28-14 win in the state 3A championship game on a snowy day at Wallace Wade Stadium.

There were no turnovers in the game until a meaningless interception in the final minute.

“We had 24 balls and three pretty good ball boys,” Brodowicz said. “And we weren’t putting the ball on the ground much, so we were able to keep the ball pretty dry under the circumstances.”

The championship was Catholic’s fourth state title including 2015. Havelock had won titles in 2011, 2012 and 2013 before losing in 2014.


Catholic is 15-0, Havelock is 14-2.


Milan Howard, RB, Catholic: Named game MVP with 160 yards rushing and 20 receiving.

“They had a good defense, but our goal is to run downhill against every team we play,” Howard said. “That’s what our line has done for us in every game.”

Lamagea McDowell, FB, Catholic: Named team offensive MVP with 63 yards and two TDs.

Zach Sabdo, QB, Havelock: Named team offensive MVP with 207 passing yards and a TD


▪ The teams scored on similar, methodical first-quarter marches. Catholic took 6:17 to go 14 yards to set up a short Christopher Walton to Paul Neel pass. Havelock took up most of the rest of the quarter, as Khalil Barrett went in from a yard to make it 7-7 at :08.

But only Catholic converted on a similar drive in the second period, going 73 yards in eight plays for Walton to score from a yard out at 3:06 and make it 13-7.

▪ Havelock proved to have made the right decision by giving the Cougars the option on the opening toss, scoring on the first drive after halftime. Walton’s 27-yard bolt to Welton Spottsville plus a Christian Hoomana boot put the Rams ahead by a point.

But Lamagea McDowell scored for Catholic from 5 yards out on the first play of the fourth, then bulled in for a two-point conversion to make it 21-14.

“Havelock’s offense was a big concern to us,” Catholic coach Mike Brodowicz said. “We didn’t want them to score, but just keep them front of us. So the first drive of theirs was not a bad drive. … When we’ve played our starters, we’ve only given up four points a game. Part of having a good defense is ball control on offense. When we got to halftime and they had had only two possessions, we were feeling pretty good.”


▪ Catholic finished with 272 yards rushing while Havelock had 207 passing.

▪ Duke was hosting playoff games for the first time since 2016.

▪ LB Chase Foley (5 tackles, 4 assists) was named Catholic’s top defender, while defensive back Welton Spottsville took defensive honors for Havelock.



Havelock 7 0 7 0 – 14

Charlotte Catholic 7 6 0 15 – 28

CC: Paul Neel 5 pass from Christopher Walton (George Griggs kick)

H: Khalil Barrett 2 run (Christian Hoomana kick)

CC: Walton 1 run (kick failed)

H: Welton Spottsville 27 pass from Zach Sabdo (Hoomana kick)

CC: Lamagea McDowell 5 run (McDowell run)

CC: McDowell 2 run (Griggs kick)