LAURINBURG — They say the third time’s a charm, but Scotland coach Richard Bailey would beg to differ with that statement when it comes to playing against his former school.
The Fighting Scots travel to Fayetteville tonight to take on the Jack Britt Buccaneers in a game that may as well be coined the “Bailey Bowl.” Bailey was Jack Britt’s first football coach when the school opened in 2000, and he said he still cherishes many of the memories made during his tenure. But that hasn’t stopped his new team from getting the better of his old one the last two years — Scotland beat Jack Britt 32-6 in 2012 in Bailey’s first visit to the “Boneyard,” and they won last year in Laurinburg 52-21.
This will mark Bailey’s third game against his former school, and he said now that many of his former players graduated and most of the coaches he knew have left the program, it is easier for him to take the field against Jack Britt tonight than it was the last two seasons.
“It’ll be a little bit better this time — the first time it was tough because I literally knew every player and half of the coaching staff,” Bailey said. “Now, I may know one coach left on the staff and a couple of players that were good as freshmen. The emotion will be more nostalgic going to the other sideline when I spent 12 years on one sideline, so that will be a little different.”
Bailey coached at the school for 12 seasons, racked up over 100 wins, and made three state title game appearances. Going into his third year at Scotland, he has already accumulated 28 wins, and will be looking to add to that total tonight despite playing a team that still holds a special place in his heart.
Jack Britt comes into tonight’s game with some question marks after losing on the road to Southeast Raleigh last week. The Buccaneers led at halftime 7-6, but their much-improved defense faltered in the 4th quarter as they went on to lose 18-13.
Bailey said Jack Britt graduated a lot of its offensive firepower from the previous season and is still searching for an identity on that side of the ball, but mentioned how much better their defense is than it was a year ago.
“They’re much better on defense this year than last year,” Bailey said. “They’re very athletic, more-so than last year when they struggled. That worries me. They’re well-coached — I don’t know those coaches anymore but coach [Brian] Rimpf and his staff are doing a good job. Offensively, they’re not quite as good as they were … a lot of those guys graduated. There defense has come up, and there offense has come back, so maybe that makes them a more balanced team.”
Despite the familiarity with the program, Bailey said he doesn’t recognize many of the offensive plays Jack Britt likes to run, as he did in years past. With most of the staff gone, he no longer has the inside scoop.
“I don’t necessarily look at them and recognize their plays as mine anymore. The first year or so when a lot of my old offensive coaches were on the staff it did look like our offense but now it has changed … I can’t take a whole lot of credit for what they’re doing offensively other than the fact that it’s a shotgun, spread offense.”
Scotland is coming off a 52-0 win over South View last week in Hope Mills, and will look to carry that momentum into tonight’s game. After a barrage of scoring put the Fighting Scots up 35-0 before the 1st quarter was over, Bailey and his team scaled their playcalling back considerably, and pulled many of their starters after halftime.
Bailey said the kids returning to school slightly affected the quality of practices this week because it altered routine, but he is looking forward to taking the field now that gameday is here, even if it is against a school that has meant so much to him.
“I met a lot of friends and a lot of teachers and administrative people that I still talk to,” Bailey said. It’s a little bit of a homecoming, it really is. By the same token nothing makes you happier than beating your brother. I pull for Jack Britt on most Friday nights except for the night that they play us.”
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.