The day before Scotland dominated Jack Britt 32-6 in their first road game of the season, Fighting Scots head coach Richard Bailey welcomed some familiar faces to the Scotland High School fieldhouse.
On hand for the junior varsity matchup between the Buccaneers and Fighting Scots were several coaches and former players who served under Bailey during his 12 seasons at Jack Britt. Bailey gave them a tour of the fieldhouse, locker rooms, workout facilities and practice fields as he talked about his new home with the Fighting Scots.
He also took the opportunity to show off a bit.
“It was cool to show a lot of the guys I keep in contact with the facilities at Scotland, because there’s much to be proud of here,” Bailey said. “We have nice bermuda grass and two 100-yard practice fields whereas at Jack Britt we just had one. We didn’t have this kind of stuff at Jack Britt, not of this quality.”
With each day that has passed since he was hired months ago, Bailey has felt more and more at home with the Fighting Scots. And that feeling of belonging was perhaps never more apparent than in the minutes before the game with North Carolina’s number 3-ranked Buccaneers, which was billed as the most anticipated in the state.
“I’ve said it before that I’m all about building relationships with my players and coaches,” Bailey said. “It felt good when many of my players said that they wanted to win the game for me, because I’ve barely had the chance to get to know them in the short time I’ve been here. They said they had my back.”
At the same time, Bailey and the Scotland coaching staff made sure that their players treated the game against the Buccaneers just like any other.
It wasn’t difficult for the already battle-tested Fighting Scots. Scotland was fresh off back-to-back games against New Hanover and Marlboro County (the latter of which Bailey claims was a “bigger game” for his players), two teams that also have playoff expectations attached to their 2012 seasons. The Fighting Scots lost their first game since the 2010-11 season 21-16 to New Hanover, but would bounce back to best the Marlboro County Bulldogs 20-12.
And going into their week 4 battle with Jack Britt, Bailey believed that his former team may have let emotions affect their level of play during the first two quarters, which proved to be the most crucial moments of the game.
“Our kids were not overwhelmed at all by Jack Britt, because it was par for the course after those games against New Hanover and Marlboro,” Bailey said. “It’s not like the Buccaneers haven’t played in big games either, but I think they let the emotion of wanting to beat their former coach take over early. I hope they remember me as a good coach and person, but I know that many felt that I was a traitor and wanted to prove that I made a big mistake leaving for Scotland.”
Regardless if emotions played a hand in the game’s outcome, Scotland put on a clinic from the opening minutes onward. The defense of the Fighting Scots held Jack Britt to just over 200 combined yards on the night and capitalized on the turnover-prone Buccaneer offense that couldn’t seem to consistently secure the football. Jaylend Ratliffe only had two incompletions on the night (completing 15 of 17 passes) and passed for three touchdowns, including two in the Scots’ 18-point first quarter that knocked Jack Britt off-kilter for the remainder of the game.
The Scots would enter halftime with a 25-0 lead after a 32-yard touchdown run from running back Jalen McLean, who demonstrated the game-breaking ability he flashed in Scotland’s season opener against Seventy First where he had more than 120 total yards from scrimmage including a 61-yard touchdown reception.
But the star of the night was senior wide receiver TreShawn Gregory, who had 120 receiving yards and all three reception touchdowns. It was part of the Scotland coaching staff’s gameplan all week to get the 6’3” wide receivers Gregory and Tyron Jones the ball as much as possible against the Buccaneers and their shorter cornerbacks.
“When push came to shove, our wideouts against their corners was the biggest advantage we had,” Bailey said. “We knew we had to throw to win the game, and while the ball when to Gregory a lot, it could have just as easily went to Tyron (Jones). It was a no-brainer, and I would’ve done it anywhere else with a similar matchup.”
Prior to Friday night’s win, Bailey believed that a victory over his former team would solidify Scotland’s standing as a state championship contender. He stood by that proclamation following the 32-6 drubbing of the Buccaneers, claiming that the Fighting Scots are one of “six or seven teams that has a legit chance to compete for a state title,” though his immediate goal for the Scots is a SEC conference championship.
And if there was any lingering bad blood, many of the Jack Britt faculty, staff and players didn’t show it as they approached the Bailey family after Scotland’s win. One by one they congratulated Bailey and wished him well in Scotland County.
“It was pretty special to be embraced like that after the game, as it validated what my family did there and that we maybe made a difference in people’s lives,” Bailey said. “But at the end of the day, the game reminded me of why I came to Scotland in the first place. The fans came out in droves, and my players and coaches gave their all out there. I couldn’t have scripted it any better.”
Scotland 32, Jack Britt 6
SC - Utter 34 field goal
SC - Safety McRae tackled in end zone
SC - Gregory 28 pass from Ratliffe (Utter kick)
SC - Gregory 24 pass from Ratliffe (kick blocked)
SC - McLean 35 run (Utter kick)
JB - McRae 1 run (kick failed)
SC - Gregory 2 pass from Ratliffe (Utter kick)
Rushing: Rushing: SC - McLean 14-92, Ratliffe 13-62, McPhatter 5-12. JB - Foshee 16-61, Carter 3-20, McRae 15-10.
Passing: SC - Ratliffe 15-17-0 167. JB - McRae 7-16-1
Receiving: SC - Gregory 6-120, Ty. Jones 4-42, Tr. Jones 2-6, Brown 1-(-1). JB - MaGee 3-31, Grant 3-62, MacLain 1-20
Records: Scotland 3-1, Jack Britt 3-1