LAURINBURG — Scotland coach Richard Bailey knows all too well that past scores do not work as predictors for games.
In 2008, Bailey’s Jack Britt team beat Pinecrest 54-0, and then Pinecrest beat Richmond. However, Jack Britt ended up falling to Richmond twice that season, including a 38-35 defeat in the state championship game.
Now, as leader of the Scots, Bailey finds himself in an eerily similar position. Scotland beat then-undefeated Pinecrest 75-28 three weeks ago, but the Patriots pulled off the upset in Rockingham last Friday when they won 21-7 over the Raiders.
So Bailey doesn’t have to reach back far to provide an example to his players that the Raiders are still dangerous. They probably don’t need much motivation, however, as Bailey said the team has practiced well this week. If Scotland (10-0, 4-0) wins tonight they will claim the Southeastern Conference title and will be placed in the playoffs as either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. If Richmond wins, Scotland would likely be seeded between second and fourth. Additionally, if that happens and Pinecrest beats Hoke, there would be three co-champions as the Scots, Raiders and Patriots would each have just one conference loss.
Bailey said this time of year the team spends more time watching film on the opposition, compared to the early going when the focus is on improving the team.
“You are who you are at this point. There’s no re-inventing. The focus is more on cleaning up the small things and game planning,” Bailey said.
A lot of the planning for the Raiders (8-2, 3-1) is likely focused on the defense. Bailey said he has watched seven or eight game films of Richmond, and seen seven or eight different formations on defense.
“This is the most multiple Richmond defense I’ve seen,” Bailey said. “You can’t prepare for them all so you have to make judgements.”
While the anticipation for the game among fans is higher than that of the normal game, Bailey said he is a ritualistic person, so the team prepares the same as it does for every game.
“We tell the kids to be focused every week, so if we suddenly start increasing practice or film time that sends the wrong message,” Bailey said.
Richmond lost to Pinecrest last week but may have suffered a greater loss, as senior quarterback Brent Flowers left the game with an injury. He is not expected to play tonight, although nothing official decision has been announced. Bailey said the team is preparing as if Flowers will play.
Scotland has had numerous injuries of its own this season, but the players that haven’t been ruled out for the season are mostly healthy. Linebacker Brandon McMillian will be back this week after sitting against Lumberton with a sore knee. Bailey said he has looked good in practice this week.
Winning the turnover battle will be key to the game, Bailey said. Fumbles set Scotland back early in the game against Hoke County, as they gave up 17 points off of turnovers.
The game begins at 7:30 p.m. at Pate Stadium. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.