LAURINBURG — Scotland took care of its business with New Bern Friday, but its opponent for the third-round of the playoffs wasn’t determined until late that night.
Knightdale came away with a 16-15 win over Hillside last Friday to earn a trip to Pate Stadium, but the deciding points were not scored until there were only 20 seconds left in the game. Now the Knights are the team standing in the way of Scotland making a third-consecutive trip to the semifinals of the Class 4A playoffs. Last Friday, while the Scots were taking care of their business against New Bern, Knightdale was locked in a defensive struggle with Hillside.
Quarterback Marquavious Johnson led the Knights to the win, however, with his 18-yard rushing touchdown that put his team ahead for good. While the Knights come into tonight’s game after a tight win, the Scots are coming off a 43-27 win over New Bern in round two.
Scotland avenged their last loss — a 23-6 defeat in New Bern in last season’s semifinal — Friday by dominating the line of scrimmage on offense and containing star quarterback Mike Hughes for most of the game. The Scots came out of the game relatively unscathed, which is even more important than usual this late into the season.
However, defensive lineman Shy’Keim Oliver will be out for the Scots after sustaining a concussion in the game against New Bern. Dominique Davis will likely move over to his spot, Scotland coach Richard Bailey said. Cornerback Trejon Monley is still recovering after pulling a muscle during an interception in the Richmond game, although he has still been able to play — at least on defense. Monley did not practice last week and still had a strong game against the Bears.
He was able to return to practice this week, although the weather limited what the Scots were able to do to some extent. The team had to practice inside the school’s gym during the downpour on Tuesday, but was able to get outside on Wednesday and early Thanksgiving morning.
Monley has also made huge plays on offense this season, as he has caught three touchdowns and is always a big-play threat, considering he has 261 yards on nine catches this season. However, since pulling his muscle Monley has not played much on offense. Bailey said he doesn’t want to put the senior on offense and risk aggravating the injury, because he is needed more on the defensive side.
“He actually factored into our offensive gameplan a lot last week, but we didn’t want to risk it,” Bailey said.
Knightdale is 11-1 this season. Their only loss came to the Heritage team that Scotland beat 56-21 in the first round of the playoffs. Heritage beat the knights 23-22 in September.
The Scots anticipated a pass-heavy game against New Bern, but was able to establish a running game thanks to a strong performance from the offensive line. Quarterback Jaylend Ratliffe ran in four touchdowns and threw for another. Running back Josh McPhatter also scored on a 70-yard run. Ratliffe did throw a few more passes in the game than he usually does, as he finished 8-for-15 for 133 yards.
Bailey said he expects more of the same against Knightdale. Linebacker Marcell Johnson is a member of the school’s track team, and Bailey said the team has several speedy players that they like to use to pressure opposing quarterbacks.
“They have a solid defense line and they like to blitz a lot so we’re going to have to complete some passes,” Bailey said.
The quarterback, twin brother of Marcell, can also move quickly. He can throw the ball occasionally, but prefers to beat teams with his feet, so Scotland’s defense will have to keep him contained to keep the Knights off the board.