LAURINBURG — The Scotland-Richmond rivalry is something former Fighting Scots players Jaquice Bethea and Robert McKoy knew about long before they dawned their helmet, cleats and shoulder pads.
Bethea, a 2012 Scotland High School graduate, and McKoy, a 2015 grad, grew up during the 17 years Scotland didn’t win a game against Richmond.
The 2011 4A state champion Fighting Scots changed all of that and Bethea and McKoy were part of the revolution.
Bethea was a senior defensive end for the Scots wearing No. 91 in 2011 when the Scots snapped the Raiders winning streak. McKoy was a freshman in 2011 but continued the legacy the next three seasons as a safety wearing No. 35.
Richmond had a monopoly on the rivalry winning the final game of each season from 1994 until 2011. The Fighting Scots, under the direction of former head coach Chip Williams, were riding a perfect season heading into Rockingham on Oct. 28, 2011.
Bethea said he remembers that entire season the team had one goal — beat Richmond.
“We got T-shirts made that had all of our names on the back and it said ‘we were born to end the streak,’” he said. “Coach Williams told us throughout practice that week it would be a shame they spent all this money on these shirts for you all to lose.”
Williams told his players he was tired of people in the community wishing him luck in beating the Raiders. The Scots didn’t need any luck or magic to thump the Raiders 41-7 in 2011 to end the 17-year losing streak.
“Coach told us he was sick of people wishing him luck, he said hard work and preparation always beats luck,” Bethea said.
Bethea said he didn’t remember the exact score but he did remember that he and the rest of the starters were pulled out at halftime. The former Scot has left his mark on the rivalry though, the photo of a Scotland player torpedoing Richmond’s quarterback is him.
“That picture that gets circulated on social media every year before the game of the guy tackling the Richmond player that’s me,” he said. “That hit right there is my favorite memory from the rivalry.”
Bethea will be returning for Friday’s game for the first time since graduating in 2012. Currently, he lives in Greensboro and is studying to get his master’s degree in applied mathematics to become a corporate data analyst.
McKoy and his teammates carried the torch as the Fighting Scots win over Richmond in 2011 spilled over into the next six seasons. McKoy’s Fighting Scots roots run deep, his older brothers Terrell Manning and Artemis Robinson played and wore No. 35.
McKoy’s younger brother Kalish McNair, a senior on this year’s team, continues the family tradition of wearing No. 35 while his twin brother Keante McNair, also a senior, decided to create his own legacy and wear No. 40.
The importance of beating Richmond wasn’t something McKoy had to instill in Kalish and Keante.
“I feel like I don’t have to tell them that, just like my brothers didn’t have to tell me,” McKoy said. “Growing up we knew what had to be done. We didn’t have to tell them, they know what they have to do on the field. You do what the coach asked you to do.”
During McKoy’s tenure on the team, the Fighting Scots defeated Richmond 21-14 in 2012; 49-14 in 2013 and 34-13 in 2014.
McKoy’s favorite memory from the rivalry was when the Scotland fans would start to sing “Na Na Na Hey Hey-ey Goodbye” the song by Steam that was made popular by the movie Remember the Titans.
“My favorite memory was when the crowd would start to sing. They would sing that song in Laurinburg and in Rockingham once the game was almost over and we knew that we had beat Richmond,” McKoy recalled.
McKoy transferred to North Carolina A&T and is a red-shirt junior on the football team this season. He is studying business and once he graduates want to start his own business like his older brother Manning, who owns a restaurant in Raleigh after his career in the NFL ended last year.
The Fighting Scots and Richmond will meet for the 50th time on Friday in Pate Stadium. Kick off is set for 7:30 p.m. but fans are encouraged to get there early because a large crowd is expected.
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.