The Fighting Scots new football coach believes the team can capture another state title.
Jack Britt’s Richard Bailey was unanimously approved Monday by Scotland County’s Board of Education following a 75-minutes closed session to become the Scotland High School next football coach. He replaces Chip Williams who stepped down after leading Scotland to a 15-0 record and its first state title last season.
Though Bailey admits that the decision to leave Jack Britt was “difficult,” he ultimately believes he can continue Scotland football’s winning ways. He attended Monday’s meeting with his wife, Laura.
“I believe I left behind a state championship caliber team in Jack Britt, and I didn’t do it for nothing,” Bailey said after the board announced its decision. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t feel I could lead this team to another state title.”
Bailey, Britt’s only coach since the school opened in 2000, informed his former players of his decision Monday afternoon to accept the vacant position with the Fighting Scots.
“Jack Britt was a special place to my family and me, but I’m excited to be in a new place to continue proving my worth,” Bailey said. “Scotland is a great football town with great players, and I believe that God granted me this opportunity for a reason.”
In 12 seasons at Britt, Bailey compiled a 119-44 record with three trips to the state championship game. The Buccaneers won or clinched a share of a conference title four times during that span and have had more than 75 players sign college scholarships.
Bailey has won at least 10 games at Britt seven of the last eight years.
Purnell Swett coach Mark Heil has known Bailey for several years and the two became friends while Scotland’s new coach was a defensive coordinator for Dean Saffos at Pine Forest.
Heil says Bailey will likely attack opponents this fall with his blitzing 4-3 defense and shotgun-heavy spread.
“He’s another really good football coach, one of the best we have in our area,” Heil said. “It’s kind of sad for our profession to see someone like (Chip) Williams get out after a state title, but Scotland’s has hired another winner with a proven record.”
The Buccaneers spent eight years in the Mid-Southeastern Conference, a league dominated by Richmond Senior, before merging into the Mid-South with six other Cumberland County teams in 2009. Bailey’s familiar with current SEC opponents Hoke County, Pinecrest and the Raiders, Scotland’s biggest rival.
“I don’t understand why he would leave Britt but it’s a great move by Scotland,” Lumberton coach and future in-conference rival Mike Brill said. “Richard’s a great guy and a great coach and Scotland is getting a good one.”
Bailey is 0-9 all-time against Richmond as a head coach including a 38-35 loss in the 2008 4AA state championship game. He hasn’t met the Raiders since that defeat.
When Britt opened its doors in football-rich Cumberland County, Bailey was selected by then-principal Conrad Lopes to hand-pick the athletes from the school’s 1,950 students. Pulling from traditional powers South View, Seventy-First and Douglas Byrd in the Hope Mills and Fayetteville area, it didn’t take long for the Buccaneers’ program to blossom into one of the region’s best.
“I’m not really surprised because going to a county school, you don’t have to compete with other schools in the district,” Richmond Senior coach Paul Hoggard said. “You can get things done a little quicker. Makes things a little easier.”
Bailey’s departure turns the Britt opening into one of the premiere gigs in the state.
Book-ended by standouts like George Bell and Xavier Nixon, southeastern North Carolina’s most-winningest coach over the last decade leaves behind a talented current group of players expected to contend for a 4A championship this fall.
— The Richmond County Daily Journal sports editor Shawn Stinson contributed to this report.