LAURINBURG — After five seasons Richard Bailey hasn’t coached any of the Jack Britt players his Fighting Scots will face Friday night — but that doesn’t make it any less of an emotional game.
“It’s not as bad these days because I haven’t coached any of these kids,” Bailey said. “I can’t take responsibility for any of those guys, but I do know some of their brothers. I’ve had a few of those parents reach out to me and say they are looking forward to the game.”
For the fifth straight season, Bailey will battle the program he coached at for more than 12 seasons and led to more than 100 wins and three state championship appearances.
Scotland is 4-0 against Jack Britt during Bailey’s tenure and the school has won four straight meetings dating back to 2011, including a tough 14-7 victory in Pate Stadium last season, but he knows Friday’s match up in Hope Mills will be a challenge.
“Jack Britt has been really good the past four years, we’ve just been fortunate enough to beat them,” he said. “One of those years, they actually played for the state championship. I don’t think anyone is taking them for granted. Last year, we beat them 14-7 — they gave us the toughest game we had all year until we played North Davidson.”
In 2011, Jack Britt advanced to the 4AA regional finals before their season ended. In 2012, the Buccaneers played Butler for the 4AA State Championship. Jack Britt fell to Butler, 56-28. The past three years Jack Britt hasn’t advanced past the second round of the playoffs.
Traditionally the two teams have put on quite a show for fans when they clash in early September, this season Jack Britt’s offense and defense both feature much younger players than normal.
“They only have two or three starters returning on defense, they lost a lot. I think they have a starting safety, linebacker and maybe one of their corners — which is good for us because they were the best we played all year,” said Bailey. “We’ve got to be ready to play.”
The Scots offense will feature No. 34 this week as Zamir White returns from a deep thigh bruise, which kept him out the past two weeks. Fellow running back and defensive back Donta Green will also be back on the field after suffering a concussion against Independence.
The only question mark for the Scots offense is whether or not running back Khalil Smith will be cleared to play after a shoulder separation.
“Khalil is still a little questionable,” said Bailey. “He says he’s playing but the doctor has to say he can play. I think we’ll have everyone back which is refreshing.”
The youth of Jack Britt also extends to their offense as well after losing their starting quarterback, tailback and its two best wide receivers to graduation. The only returns for the Buccaneers are a couple of guys on their offensive line.
If that wasn’t enough Jack Britt’s quarterback, Kennique Bonner-Steward, was a transferred student who had been at the school three days before last week’s blowout, 48-20 loss to Terry Sanford.
“We haven’t seen him throw much on film, but we’re assuming he can,” said Bailey.
Jack Britt ran the wildcat a majority of last week’s game, according to Bailey most likely because the sophomore quarterback wasn’t familiar enough with the Buccaneers offense.
“They tend to run a lot of different formations,” he said. “We think we’ll see more of a traditional offense on Friday, but based on the last four years we’re really not sure. When they play us they always throw something at us we’ve never seen and we have no idea what it’s going to be.”
The Scots defense has only allowed their first three opponent to score seven points, so whatever Jack Britt has up its sleeve, Bailey is confident his defense will have an answer.
“We’ve played pretty good against the pass so far and we’ve also done a good job pass rushing. Hopefully we can continue doing that because that’s a good combination,” he said.
Scotland and Jack Britt will kick off Friday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m., fans are reminded that Cumberland County games start 30 minutes earlier than normal.
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.