LAURINBURG — With less than a week until the Fighting Scots take the field for their first regular season game of the year, one big question still linger over the team as they prepare for the South View Tigers.
Who will take the reins as quarterback?
Jaylend Ratliffe racked up 3,902 total yards and scored 52 total touchdowns last year while also winning the Southeastern Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year as he led the Scots to the 4A state championship game.
The rising senior, who continues to slowly recover from an ATV accident suffered over two weeks ago, has not been ruled out to return by Scotland’s coaching staff. However, it remains unlikely that he will suit up for the Fighting Scots this year.
Dashaun Ferguson, a rising junior who guided the junior varsity team to a 8-2 record last year, is currently a slight favorite to win the job. Ferguson performed well earlier in the week in the Scot’s scrimmage game against Northern Durham, despite the game being called early due to inclement weather. Ferguson completed his first three passes and had two impressive runs in a drive that culminated with a 30-yard touchdown pass.
It was the only drive Ferguson conducted before the teams were forced to leave the field, but coach Richard Bailey and his staff are hoping that performance carries over into the regular season. Ferguson knows that this is his chance to lead the offense.
“Really, I’m just gonna try to dedicate this season to Jaylend,” Ferguson said at a practice earlier in the month. “Jaylend was like a brother to me and when he went down, it’s time for me to man up and lead this team.”
Ty McLaurin, a rising sophomore who moved from wide receiver to quarterback earlier in the summer to challenge Ferguson for the starting job, has since been moved back to his old position.
”.. He’ll probably stay there for most of the year,” Bailey said.
Ferguson’s main competition will now be senior Jaleel McLean, who was Ratliffe’s backup last year. Bailey moved McLean to fullback at the beginning of summer because he felt his strengths suited the position, but with Ratliffe’s injury, McLean now has a chance to win back the position.
McLean suffered a bad ankle sprain earlier in the summer and was forced to sit out for a couple of weeks but was on the field for a couple of snaps during the scrimmage as well and moved the ball effectively, especially when running the ball.
“Jaleel and Dashaun will be the quarterbacks we’re deciding from,” Bailey said. “We still haven’t decided, both of them did pretty good in the scrimmage we had the other day but it was so limited it was hard to get a good look at it.”
Bailey and his staff have only a handful of practices left to settle on a final candidate.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.