LAURINBURG — The 2015 Scotland football team secured its fifth straight Southeastern Conference championship en route to an undefeated regular season, and more than a dozen of its players were recognized for their play on the gridiron.
Fourteen Scots were named to the all-SEC team, six of whom are repeat honorees. The conference released the distinguished list over the weekend after Richmond Senior, the last team from the SEC still competing in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs, lost to Page in third-round action Friday.
Scotland swept the player of the year and coach of the year awards.
Sophomore running back Zamir White was the runaway selection for Offensive Player of the Year after compiling 2,145 yards and 41 touchdowns on 260 carries. White also had four receptions for 50 yards and two more scores. The Scots’ bell cow on offense averaged 8.3 yards per carry and eclipsed the 100-yard mark in 11 of the 12 games he suited up for. White rushed for a season-high 302 yards and six touchdowns in Scotland’s win over Independence in late August.
Smith, the 2014 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, was a repeat winner after notching 102 tackles, 17 of which went for a loss. The future University of North Carolina linebacker recovered a fumble and tied senior defensive back Trevon Gibson for the team lead in interceptions with three. Smith’s pick of Richmond quarterback Leon Zeigler in the red zone in the regular-season finale helped the Scots stymie a frantic Raider comeback and clinched the program’s fifth SEC title in a row.
Head coach Richard Bailey was again recognized by his peers and took home SEC Coach of the Year for the fourth consecutive season. It is the second straight year Bailey was the lone recipient of the award — in 2013, the Scotland skipper shared the honor with Pinecrest’s Chris Metzger.
The Scots (12-1, 6-0 in the SEC) earned the No. 2 seed in the 4A West Region this season and advanced to the second round before falling to North Davidson, 46-42, on Nov. 20.
Quarterback Dashaun Ferguson rebounded for a preseason knee injury to put together a stellar senior season. Ferguson, who was also selected to the all-SEC squad as a junior, threw 15 touchdown passes and rushed for six more without tossing a single interception.
Senior wideouts Willie Douglas and Randy Leak were also honored after combining for over 1,100 receiving yards and 13 touchdown receptions. Fellow pass-catcher Redric McLean was selected as an all-SEC tight end. The junior, whose primary job was to open holes as a blocker for White and the rest of the Scotland backfield, had four catches for 54 yards.
Scotland had three offensive lineman honored — J’Quan Breeden, Niga Hailey and Timon McMillan. The two seniors, Breeden and McMillan, were also on the all-SEC team a season ago.
On the defensive line, the Scots were anchored by senior Mazani Stubbs and junior Octavis McLaurin. A repeat all-SEC honoree, Stubbs recorded 28 tackles (11 for loss), one sack and one forced fumble. McLaurin tallied 25 tackles (five for loss), one sack and one forced fumble.
Senior Wells Graham joined Smith as an all-SEC performer in the linebacking corps. Graham racked up 44 tackles (11 for loss), forced one fumble and recovered another.
In the secondary, Scotland was led by Gibson and junior Donta Green. Gibson, another repeat all-SEC selection, was the Scots’ top corner, hauling in three interceptions with seven passes defended and 35 tackles. Green made 39 stops (three for loss) with one interception, four passes defended and one forced fumble.
Richmond was second in the conference with 13 all-SEC selections. The Raiders finished 11-3 (5-1 in the SEC) this season, and advanced to the semifinals of the 4AA East Region.
Pinecrest placed nine of its players on the all-conference squad. The Patriots (1-10, 1-5 in the SEC) won nine games on the field, but were forced to forfeit eight of those victories after it was discovered before the regular-season finale that the program violated the eight-quarter rule.
Lumberton landed seven players on the all-SEC squad after the Pirates put together a 6-6 (3-2 in the SEC) season. Lumberton was eliminated by Page in the first round of the 4AA playoffs.
Purnell Swett (3-8, 2-3 in the SEC) had one player honored, and Hoke (0-11, 0-5 in the SEC) rounded out the all-conference team with four selections.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.