LAURINBURG — Scotland coach Richard Bailey may have more questions than answers about his team as they prepare for the first game of the season tonight at home against South View.
The Scots were struck by the injury bug in recent weeks, and are likely without two of their top offensive players when the Tigers visit Laurinburg.
Starting quarterback Dashaun Ferguson, who paced Scotland to a 12-2 record and fourth straight Southeastern Conference championship his junior season, will likely miss the first quarter of the season as he recovers from a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
An MRI Monday afternoon revealed the injury.
The senior was hurt during Saturday’s scrimmage against Millbrook when he was tackled at the goal line on a 67-yard run.
Bailey said that it will take Ferguson two to three weeks to recover from the setback. The good news for the Scots is that the injury will not require surgery, and should heal on its own. Once Ferguson returns, he will wear a brace to protect the knee.
The dual-threat signal caller passed for 1,160 yards and 12 touchdowns with just four interceptions last year. He also rushed for more than 100 yards in two games, and finished the season with 128 carries for 771 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The Scots will now turn to backup Sergio Gibson for the foreseeable future — the junior saw limited playing time last year, often entering games when they were already decided. He was 1 of 2 passing for 17 yards with 15 rushes for (minus 1) yards.
The 5-foot-10, 160-pounder was one of Scotland’s top performers in its scrimmage against Douglas Byrd last week, throwing a 20-yard score to Barry Campbell and running for a 6o-yard touchdown.
Gibson is set to make his first career varsity start tonight against the Tigers, and Bailey said he expects the rest of the team to rally around him.
The Scots will also likely be without starting wide receiver Willie Douglas, who sprained his ankle in Scotland’s first scrimmage game against Northern Durham on Aug. 12.
“I’m concerned about our offense with some of our injuries,” Bailey said. “I’m hoping our offensive line performs really well. I know Zamir (White) is going to run the ball hard and hopefully Randy Leak can make some plays in the passing game. Defensively, I feel pretty good.”
The Scots face a Tigers team coached by Rodney Brewington, who took over the program after longtime coach Randy Ledford passed away in the offseason while battling health issues.
“It’s emotional for me because me and Randy have been friends and adversaries for a long time,” Bailey said. “It’s going to be weird looking at a South View team across the field without Randy Ledford coaching them.”
With Ledford patrolling the sidelines during their meeting last season, the Scots raced out to a 42-0 halftime lead en route to a 52-0 victory.
Brewington returned to the school that he won a state championship with as a player in 1991, and Bailey said the Tigers will present different looks than they’ve shown in recent seasons now that the former defensive back had the offseason to put his stamp on the program.
“He is a South View guy,” Bailey said. “He still wants to run the football, but they are a little more spread and some shotgun stuff. They’re a little weird in that we’re in the shotgun all the time, and they’ll be shotgun then go right under center and be I-formation the next play. Usually you don’t see teams fluctuate back and forth between gun and center like South View does so that’s a little unique and will present some matchup problems for our defense.”
Kickoff at Pate Stadium is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.