LUMBERTON — The Fighting Scots will travel to Lumberton in just a few weeks to be part of the second annual Battle of the Carolinas Football Classic, which pits teams from North and South Carolina against each other.
Head coaches from the 10 participating teams got together at Lumberton High School on Friday for a press conference to give a rundown of how the teams are shaping up.
Scotland, Lumberton and Purnell Swett, will represent the Southeastern Conference, while Fairmont, East Bladen and West Brunswick round out the North Carolina teams. Lakeview, Dillon, Latta and Marlboro will travel from South Carolina to participate in the jamboree scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 10.
Fairmont and Lakeview will kick things off at 5 p.m.that day, followed at 6 p.m. by Scotland and East Bladen. West Brunswick and Latta will battle at 7 p.m., before the late games that include Purnell Swett vs. Dillon at 8 p.m. and Lumberton vs. Marlboro at 9 p.m.
Scotland head football coach Richard Bailey is looking forward to being a part of the jamboree.
“I like the idea of the whole North Carolina, South Carolina rivalry — even though we’re playing another team from North Carolina” Bailey said.
Bailey uses scrimmages, like the jamboree, to evaluate those players he and his staff are still on the fence about, not to get his varsity starters additional reps.
“We use the film from scrimmages to evaluate those players who are still fighting for a starting position,” he said. “So as an evaluation tool it’s great for those five or six players we are really going to be looking at to see if they are going to be starters.”
Following a 12-1 season in 2015, where the Scots captured their fifth straight SEC title, Bailey knows the expectations of the community are extremely high.
“We were 12-1 and for most teams that would be great, but anything short of winning a state championship will be somewhat of a disappointment,” Bailey said. “To me winning a conference championship is the first step, and an undefeated season would be huge, but ultimately we want to win a state championship. “
Scotland will be taking on the much smaller East Bladen, a 2A school. Hearing his team would be playing the five-time SEC championship had East Bladen head coach Robby Priest wondering what he had done wrong.
“Whenever they asked me I figured I had made somebody mad,” Priest said. “I couldn’t figure out who I made mad, so I looked at it as a positive thing. I doubt we’ll play anyone that good the rest of the year. It’s a chance for our kids to play against a powerhouse and we look forward to it.”
Each of the five scrimmages will consist of two 15-minute quarters, starting with the ball placed on the 30-yard line. Each team will have two timeouts — one per quarter — and will play a standard football game, except for the kicking game. Teams will not face opposition when kicking in order to avoid injuries.
The 10 schools will share the money raised by the event. Each school was given 100 advanced tickets, which the public can purchase for $5 with all of that money going back to the school. Tickets at the gate will be $7 and the money raised from those will be split between the teams after expenses are paid.
Concessions will also be available and organizers are working on additional seating after the overwhelming response to last year’s jamboree had crowds three deep trying to watch their respective games.
James Granger, an organizer of the event, said the scrimmage offers a chance to display the support each school and its region.
“It’s a big deal for this community,” Granger said. “There’s not a lot going on (in August). Having schools like the caliber we have here provides folks the chance to watch some good football.”
In the case of a bad weather, the make-up date for the event will be Aug. 11. The regular season opens for all teams on Aug. 19.
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.