LAURINBURG — Scotland High’s football team traveled to Pinecrest High School Tuesday to practice 7-on-7 drills against three other schools — Northview, St. Pauls and Terry Sanford.
Offensive and defensive linemen did not participate in these drills — Scotland’s linemen stayed behind to practice at the school. These drills are designed to showcase the skill positions of the team, particularly wide receivers and cornerbacks. The mandated NCHSAA dead period is next week, so this was the final official 7-on-7 drill for Scotland this summer. The first official practice is on Aug. 1, though the team began training for the season back in June.
As Scotland continues to train in the scorching heat for the coming year, head coach Richard Bailey has already noticed a huge improvement in his team’s performance since the start of summer.
“From the beginning of summer to now, we’re totally different from where we were,” Bailey said. “Knowledge of the plays, being more consistent, and just technically we’ve gotten better.”
The defense looked particularly strong in the 7-on-7 drills, as the communication amongst the players translated to numerous deflections and interceptions in the secondary. Although the offense struggled at times, Bailey is not as worried about the way they performed Tuesday because these drills do not showcase Scotland’s strengths — playing physical, running the football, and setting up the play-action pass.
“We’re a run-heavy team. The offense doesn’t work very good in 7-on-7, but we have to practice throwing the ball.”
Bailey also said that yesterday’s drills were important for the team because there are position battles at wide receiver and cornerback.
“Wide receiver and defensive back are wide open right now — the secondary is big, we don’t know who is going to win that,” Bailey said. “We got some guys that are really trying to fight for it. Let the best man win, competition is a good thing.”
Players fighting to win roster spots on the team should find out their fate by the end of the week when Bailey posts the official roster.
“At this point, we’re getting close to start time and we need to look pretty good,” Bailey said. “I like where we’re at.”
After winning a NC 4A State Championship in 2011, three straight Southeastern Conference Championships, and a 4A Eastern Regional Championship last year, expectations for the Scotland football team are understandably high as the calender inches closer to August. Head coach Richard Bailey and his team embrace the challenge.
“Expectations are always high, we’re hopefully going to compete for a conference championship and a state championship,” Bailey said. “Those are realistic goals. Some schools can’t say that, but here it’s a realistic goal. Anything less than that is a disappointment, that’s the expectations the community has and the expectations I have.”
Bailey said he is proud to coach a school that has such a passionate fanbase supporting them and his team is anxious to take the field.
“We’re not going to run away from the expectations, we’re going to embrace it,” Bailey said. “I would rather be that team than the team that nobody cares about.”
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3171. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.