For the 45th time in 40 years, Scotland High School and Richmond County will renew a fevered rivalry at Pate Stadium Friday night, ushering in an opportunity for the Fighting Scots’ varsity football team to experience an era of success unlike any other.
With an unblemished 9-0 mark heading into today’s contest, Scotland can clinch their first undefeated regular season in school history, while claiming their first conference title since 2001.
Also on the line is the Raiders’ 17-year win streak over the Fighting Scots, which dates back to the last time Scotland downed Richmond in 1994.
At that time, most of the Scotland High School football team hadn’t yet been born, much less been a part of the rivalry, but this week, they’ll experience that intensity like never before, as 14,000 fans are expected to jam Pate Stadium before the 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Entering the contest, Scotland sits 4-0 in the SEC after tearing apart a strong Lumberton squad 35-7 on the road last week for the Pirates’ Senior Night.
Tonight, it will be the Raiders looking to spoil the Fighting Scots’ big night, as they bring in their 3-1 SEC mark in hopes of splitting a conference title with Scotland.
Scotland head coach Chip Williams said that for Scotland, it would be their character that determines the Fighting Scots’ success on the field Friday night.
“To me, how we play this game reflects how we should live our lives,” Williams said. “If we don’t learn that hard work, never giving up and being a team are the keys to winning, then we’re not going to be successful. Those are the things that should dictate your life and how you play. That’s what they need to understand about this game and take out of this. I want to see maximum effort the whole game. It’s a reflection of them and their character.”
Williams said at practice this week, the Fighting Scots took tonight’s game just like any other.
“I think the schemes that we have are great schemes,” he said. “I think everything in this game is going to be just like it has been in the past. It’s going to come down to who wants to win the game the worst and who is going to give the most effort.”
Last season, Scotland looked like they were on the verge of upsetting the Raiders on the road, jumping out to a 21-3 lead in the opening quarter. Despite Scotland’s early scoring outburst, the Raiders rallied back for 28 unanswered points, picking up their 35th all-time win against the Fighting Scots.
“In the first half last season, we won, and in the second half, they whipped us,” Williams said. “We’re going to have to play an entire ball game and bring our best effort if we want to stay undefeated.”
The Raiders come into the game against Scotland with an 8-1 record, falling only once this season to Hoke in their SEC opener. The Raiders edged Pinecrest last week 12-7, needing a late interception from Steve Houston at the Raiders’ 1-yard-line to end the Patriots’ comeback run.
Richmond’s offense has averaged 25 points a contest in conference play, while the Fighting Scots have rolled to 41 points a game in SEC action. Defensively, Scotland has limited their SEC foes to 12.5 points a game, while the Raiders have allowed 23.5 points a game.
Despite the Fighting Scots’ glaring on-field performance advantage, Williams knows it will take all Scotland has to get the Richmond monkey off their back.
“Richmond is Richmond County,” he said. “We haven’t beaten them in 17 years. Something is wrong with that. It’s time.”
Scotland and the Raiders will kick off tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Pate Stadium, with the Fighting Scots’ Senior Night ceremony expected to begin at 7 p.m.