The varsity football Fighting Scots have had an entire week to allow the buzz surrounding their huge week 4 win against Jack Britt to fade into the background.
It was an early peak for the Scots, who have started the season 3-1 after consecutive wins against Marlboro County and the Buccaneers in the most difficult stretch of their non-conference schedule. Yet, to underestimate their week 5 opponent would be a mistake according to Scotland coach Richard Bailey.
Because despite a 1-3 record and a lack of size, the Anson County Bearcats are a team more than capable of stunning a championship contender that lowers its guard for even a second.
“It’s definitely a trap game for us,” Bailey said. “We’re coming off an emotional victory to play a team that, at least on paper, isn’t as good as it has traditionally been. Yet they’ve been competitive in nearly every game this year, so I’ve challenged my guys to take them very seriously.”
The term “on paper” is an expression that Bearcats coach Luke Hyatt also used when he viewed the matchup between his team and the Fighting Scots. Looking at the wealth of talent on the current Scotland roster, Hyatt knows his Bearcats can’t out-muscle the visiting Scots who are much bigger in size and stature than Anson County.
But what Hyatt’s team can do is compete for all four quarters, as the Bearcats have demonstrated thus far this season. Aside from a 58-0 blowout loss to Richmond, Anson County lost their first two games by a touchdown or less in games that came down to a final possession in the fourth quarter.
After being on the losing end of close games this season, the Bearcats finally broke through last week against Chesterfield with a 34-27 win that came down to a fourth quarter game-winning drive. With renewed confidence, Hyatt hopes that his team will build upon that victory after rediscovering what it takes to effectively finish a closely-contested game.
“In our first two games we either had the lead or were tied with the other team going into the fourth quarter,” Hyatt said. “It was the same with Chesterfield, but after sniffing at it for a while we finally put it all together and got the win. If we played the rest of those games with the same intensity, there’s no doubt in my mind that we’d be sitting at 3-1 right now.”
In order for the Bearcats to remain competitive with Scotland Friday night, a variety of factors will have to go their way. Anson County will rely upon the punishing north-south running style of junior fullback Jekev Robinson to control the game clock and set up the play action pass against a talented Scots’ defensive unit. Senior quarterback/wide receiver tandem Rodrick Evans and Bunyon Tyson have also formed a prolific rapport during the course of the season and will be expected to continue their aerial attack against the Fighting Scots.
But as he prepares his team for Anson County, Bailey sees a team that uses sneaky athleticism and a lack of size to its’ advantage, particularly on defense.
“Defensively they’re an attacking type of defense that isn’t big but is fast and can get around,” Bailey said. “Frankly I’m worried that their smaller defensive lineman could slip right by us a bit and make plays.”
Ultimately, the game between the Fighting Scots and the Bearcats is one last opportunity for Scotland to polish their game before the second and most crucial half of their schedule begins in roughly two weeks. September 28th marks the Fighting Scots’ first conference game as they return home to host Purnell Swett.
And though Richmond has set the early pace for the Southeastern Conference by starting its season 4-0, Bailey sees no need to try to outdo the Raiders by attempting to best their 58-0 score against Anson County. He just wants to win the game.
“If we play well and win the football game 2-0, then I’m happy,” Bailey said. “It’s important is that my guys improve on a different facet of their game each and every week. There’s always something to get better at, whether it’s red zone efficiency or special teams, but it’s necessary that we continue winning games while we get better.”