Fayetteville Britt has displayed a lot of heart the entire season, not just in Friday’s 14-8 win at Garner.
Garner drove 73 yards in the final minute only to have a pass intercepted in the end zone on the last play of the game. The Bucs also needed a last-second defensive stand to defeat Richmond County 56-52 the week before.
In the last week of the regular season, Britt (13-2) battled past Fayetteville Pine Forest 14-7 in overtime.
Brian Rimpf, Britt’s first-year coach who played at Leesville Road and at East Carolina, said his players believe in each other.
“We’ve been able to build the mindset that we are going to bail each other out,” said Rimpf. “We were not so good on defense against Richmond, but the offense bailed us out. We didn’t do much offensively against Garner, but the defense bailed us out.”
Rimpf’s brother Nathan, who lost both legs in Afghanistan in July, spoke to his brother’s squad before the Garner game. Brian had told the team about his brother and the players repeatedly asked that Nathan come speak to them.
Nathan, who has been fitted with prosthetic legs, still undergoes rehabilitation at Walter Reid Hospital in Bethesda, Md., but came home for Thanksgiving.
Nathan told the Buccaneers to never give up and to keep believing in one another.
“He told us that his platoon never gave up on him. If it had, he wouldn’t have made it,” Rimpf said. “We’ve had a lot of games that have come down to final minutes. Our guys do a good job playing for each other.”
Britt was able to slow down the Garner attack with defensive speed, Rimpf said.
“If you look at the tape, Garner has been able to score a lot of touchdowns by breaking through the line and out-running the secondary,” Rimpf said. “We had enough speed to prevent that. They broke free a few times, but we had enough speed in back to keep them out of the end zone.”
Rimpf was an assistant at Harnett Central in 2011 and joined the Britt staff late last spring. He was named as head coach when Richard Bailey resigned to become the coach at Scotland County.
Rimpf related his personal story to the squad soon after he was named coach.
“I played at East Carolina for Steve Logan for three years,” Rimpf said. “Then suddenly the man who recruited me and coached me was gone. John Thompson was the new head coach and I was a senior. It was difficult.
“I knew what our seniors were going through when I was named the head coach. I wanted them to know that I understood what they were going through.”
Matthews Butler (14-0) is the favorite in the 4AA championship on Saturday, but Rimpf said his team is used to that.
The team’s only two losses were against Scotland, when N.C. State wide receiver recruit Jalen McDaniels was out, and against Fayetteville E.E. Smith when quarterback Mark McRae was out.
“We look at it as being 11-0 when Jalen and Mark play and being undefeated in road games,” Rimpf said.