Scotland football is back.
As most of the country celebrates the return of America’s most popular sport by watching NFL preseason games and arguing if Johnny Manziel or Brian Hoyer should be the Browns’ starting QB, high school football fanatics get a taste of the real thing a week or two before the college and the pro games start their regular seasons.
After a tumultuous summer clouded by Jaylend Ratliffe’s ATV accident that took place before the first official practice, the Fighting Scots finally take the field tonight against South View. Expectations couldn’t have been higher before Ratliffe’s injury, but that doesn’t mean fans’ anticipation for the season has dwindled, considering the program has become one of the best in the state the last couple of years. Three straight conference championships, two appearances in the state championship game, and a championship trophy the last three years is reason enough for Scots fans to expect another successful season, despite the circumstances surrounding the team as its 2014 campaign begins.
As exciting as it is that football has returned, I also want to remind everyone, whether I need to or not, that it isn’t the only sport being played this fall. And Scotland isn’t the only Laurinburg program striving for success on the field, pitch, or court. Several St. Andrews sports are prepping for their regular seasons as well — soccer and volleyball have already completed scrimmage games, and are training diligently in preparation for the challenges they’ll face once the games start to count.
In fact, football isn’t the first sport that started its regular season at Scotland. Soccer and volleyball have already played two games each, and started off their respective years by notching a couple of victories. Coach Danny Gallagher and the Scot are already 2-0 after hard-fought road wins at Seventy-First and Whiteville this week. The Lady Scots, led by coach Molly Hayes, rebounded from a tough loss Monday night to Terry Sanford to defeat Douglas Byrd Tuesday night in straight sets in their home opener.
St. Andrews women’s soccer handily won its first exhibition game at home against Cape Fear Community College, and play again today against NC Alliance. Head coach Rick Parlow and the team have improved the program’s win total every year since he took the helm, and they will look to continue that trend. Looks as if they’re already off to a good start.
The men’s program, led by Stevan Hernandez, is also entering the year with high expectations as they return 29 players from last year’s roster. Their first scrimmage is today at UNC-Pembroke, and if anything else, the St. Andrews roster is filled with a diverse cast as the 45 players hail from 14 different countries and four different stats. It will be interesting to see how the team gels with such a diverse cast.
St. Andrews volleyball is also a program that appears to be on an upward trajectory, as coach Holly Mandeville led the team to eight wins in her first year and followed it up with 13 wins in her second. The Lady Knights already played their one scrimmage game of the season and won in straight sets over Sandhill Community College.
All of these teams, players, and coaches have worked just as hard to prepare for their respective seasons as football has trained for theirs, and it’s only right that they’re given the recognition they deserve — not only from me, but also from the people that call this community home.
Soak in the moment as you watch the Fighting Scots take the field for the first time tonight. But do yourself a favor and make sure to check out the other sports that are taking place this fall — fascinating storylines and dramatic games aren’t just limited to football.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.