FLORENCE, S.C. – The Carolina Havoc picked up their first playoff victory since moving to Florence on Tuesday with a 60-22 victory over Cape Fear.
There wasn’t much time to savor it, however.
In a quick turnaround, the Havoc now prepare for the American Arena League Bowman Cup Playoff semifinals Saturday at 4 p.m. in Charlotte against the only team to earn a victory against them this season – the Carolina Energy.
“It’s a short week, but we’ve done everything we can to prepare for the game Saturday,” Havoc coach Anson Yarborough said. “We took Wednesday off and had a practice (Thursday) and another light practice (Friday). But we’re locked and loaded and ready to play Havoc football.”
Yarborough’s squad is 8-1 and faces an unbeaten Energy squad (5-0) coming off a first-round bye. The Energy earned a 54-29 win over the Havoc at Bojangles’ Coliseum the first time around, but Yarborough believes his squad won’t make the same mistakes it did then.
“We had a lot of mistakes that were very uncharacteristic of us,” he said. “We normally don’t turn the ball over like we did and we normally don’t make those kinds of mistakes.
“Really it was just a matter of learning to play throughout the course of four quarters the rest of the season, and I think we’re the type of team now that we set out to be at the beginning of the year.”
The offensive line is also looking for a bit of redemption this week after suffering perhaps its worst outing of the year against the Energy the first time.
“Protection, protection, protection,” Yarborough said. “That’s what we’ve been harping on all week, and I think we’re going to get after them a little bit more on the defensive side than we did the first time.”
The Energy is a predominantly running squad, but Yarborough said his team wasn’t hurt too badly by its run game in the first matchup.
“They really hurt us passing the ball, so we’ve been working on those keys and those kinds of things to really prepare for what we’re going to face,” he said.
Steffen Colon has been a spark for the Energy at quarterback on offense this season as the AAL Southern Division champs rolled past the competition by a combined 348-80 score. Defensive back Carlo Thomas has eight interceptions on the year to lead the defense.
The Atlantic Division champion Havoc have used multiple quarterbacks this season, but Jesse Scroggins has come on of late and Darryl Clark provides a solid veteran should he be needed.
“He’s been very solid and has kind of come into his own the last few weeks,” Yarborough said of Scroggins. “Another key move we made was taking wide receiver Martel Moore and putting him on the defensive side of the ball. He’s a very explosive, game-changing type of athlete and I think he’s going to make a huge difference tomorrow.”
The defense has been more than solid all year as well, led by linebacker Christian Russell among others. The Havoc defense stifled Cape Fear last week, holding them to 22 points after giving up 59 the first time the two teams played.
The winner of today’s matchup will face the West Michigan/ West Virginia winner for the Bowman Cup championship the following week. The Havoc won the AAL title last season.