Crest dresses in Green Bay Packers-style uniforms, but coach Mike Barnes teaches his players old-fashioned, Vince Lombardi-style football rather than Aaron Rodgers’ modern passing game.
Crest shut down a Havelock spread offense that averaged 51 points per game by controlling the clock and forcing turnovers in a 24-3 victory to win the N.C. 3A championship Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium.
“My daddy was a football coach, my brother was a football coach, and I’ve coached a lot of football,” Barnes said. “Football ain’t changed; you’ve got to block, tackle, run the ball and play defense. That’s our style of play.”
Crest, which lost the 3AA state title to Southern Durham a year ago, finished unbeaten, 16-0. The Chargers didn’t allow their five playoff opponents to score in double figures. They held 13 of 16 teams to single digits, including seven shutouts.
Havelock (14-2) had won three straight 3A titles and scored 84 points in one win at midseason before running into the Chargers.
The Crest defense held Havelock to 157 yards with an assist from an offense that controlled the ball for 31 minutes, 25 seconds. Tre Harbison, a 5-foot-11, 205-pound running back, carried 41 times for 192 yards and three touchdowns.
Harbison, a junior, entered the final averaging only 14.7 carries and 110 yards a game, but that stat was more misleading than Havelock’s 51-point average.
“The reason he averaged only 15 carries a game is our program does not embarrass other programs,” Barnes said. “We’ve been up a lot at halftime; he probably didn’t play in the third quarter but three times.”
Harbison, who frequently ran out of a Wildcat formation, said he was tired but happy.
“It was good to have coach trust me and put the offense on my back,” Harbison said. “I had to do it for the team.”
The Chargers’ first two scores were an 11-play, 72-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead with four seconds left in the first quarter, and an 11-play, 67-yard drive for a 14-3 lead midway through the second quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Havelock’s Dallas Frazier’s return to the 40 ended with a fumble that Crest’s Chris Willis recovered. Crest settled for a 17-3 halftime lead on Alex Trejo’s 25-yard field goal with nine seconds left in the half.