It was a banner season for Scotland High School’s fall sports programs, where the accolades piled up almost as quickly as the memories for all involved.
The Scots’ cross country, girls golf and tennis, boys soccer, volleyball and football squads earned a slew of All-Conference and All-Region honors for their 2012 campaigns, and all were honored Thursday night.
And for first-year Scotland football coach Richard Bailey, it was not merely a chance to give his Fighting Scots’ student athletes awards in various categories.
It was a chance to thank them for making his transition into the Scotland sports culture truly something special.
“I didn’t get the opportunity to be around my players for more than this season, but I’m blessed to have had them in my life for that brief window of time,” Bailey said. “I really owe them a lot for helping to make my move to Scotland much easier, and they will always be an important group in my life.”
Scotland varsity girls golf coach Gary Barfield kicked off the ceremony in unique fashion by recognizing not just one, but four of his golfers for the “Coaches Award,” given out to the player(s) who best exemplify what it means to be a SHS student athlete.
They were seniors Kaylan Ganus, Alison Critcher, Caitlin McCormick and Gabby Gualtieri.
“I’ve had this group for all four years that they’ve been at the school, and each of them has come a long way since they were freshmen,” said Barfield during the ceremony. “They were the backbone of this program, and we’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs together. I’m going to miss them.”
Barfield also awarded MVP honors to Scotland junior golfer Ashley Barringer, who was the strongest player on a team which finished second in the Southeastern 4-A conference in 2012. Along with Ganus, Barringer was an All-Conference selection for the Scots and finished in the top-five scorers of the conference as well. She was also the team’s only golfer to make it to state qualifiers.
Next up was Scotland’s cross country team, coached by newcomer Greg Wrape who presented the awards. Wrape gave both his female Coaches and Runner of the Year awards to Scotland senior Shyanne Pate, whom he called “both my best runner and hardest worker who went way beyond my expectations this season.”
Freshman Joey Dinkins was awarded “Most Improved” by Wrape for shaving five minutes off his overall time by season’s end. And for his Male Runner of the Year award, Wrape recognized sophomore Logan Ward, who finished as the team’s top boys runner and posted a time of 16:56 at the team’s final regular season meet, which was the fastest mark of the season for the Scots. The boys’ Coaches Award was given to Kendall Romaine as well.
The first of Scotland’s three conference championship-teams took the stage next, as long-tenured girls tennis coach Jeanne Roller presented her awards. The lady Scots finished atop the conference along with Pinecrest this season and saw Munroe Buie finish in the top-eight of regional competition at the end of the senior’s final season.
Roller awarded Kaylan Ellis the Most Improved award for her heroic performance in what turned out to be a conference-deciding match with Pinecrest that was hosted at home. In that match, Ellis overcame a deficit to defeat the Patriots’ Brittany Jenkins via the 10-7 third-set tiebreaker to help spark the Scots to a 5-4 match victory over Pinecrest. It was the team’s first regular season win against their conference rival since 2007.
MVP honors were awarded to senior Charlotte Laurent, who was the team’s number-one ranked player after watching the 2011 season from the sidelines due to a season-ending foot injury which required surgery. Roller closed her presentation by giving the Coaches Award to Buie.
Boys soccer was next, which saw the team endure a season littered with challenges (Scotland finished the season 3-13-1). However, two players earned All-Conference and All-Region distinctions (Victor Still and Carter Dold), and Scotland coach Colin McDavid made it clear that the effort put forth by his Scots all season-long was an admirable feat.
“This was team was not a pushover, and we had several overtime games that could’ve gone either way,” McDavid said. “It was a tough season for our seniors, but they never quit.”
McDavid awarded the “Rookie of the Year” to senior goal-keeper Robert McMillian, who entered this season having never played soccer and nonetheless had a consistently-solid season. Most Improved was given to Micah Stanton, and the “Spirit Award” was bestowed upon Joe Sojka for his relentless energy and enthusiasm. The Coaches Award went to Still, who played multiple positions for the Scots this season, and MVP honors were handed to Dold, who McDavid called “by far the best player on this year’s team.”
The volleyball team continued their dominant ways this season, winning 23 games and a conference championship (their eighth-straight) while also failing to yield a single loss until the third-round of the 4-A state playoffs. Presenting the volleyball awards was assistant coach Molly Hayes, who began by giving Most Improved honors to junior Maddie “Mad Dog” Milholland, who became one of the conference’s most feared hitters by the time the season concluded. Scotland senior Libby Ingram was acknowledged for the “Game-Changer” award for her ability to always come through in the clutch when her teammates needed it most. The Coaches Award went to Greta Griswold, who earned a reputation for her fiery will-to-win and all-around game.
And MVP honors were given to Caroline “Big Nasty” Pridgen, who broke every single hitting record at Scotland High School en route to being one of the top players in North Carolina.
The 12-2 conference championship-winning Scotland football squad concluded the ceremony, and Bailey began by saying that this year’s football squad made him realize that his move to Scotland County “turned out to be the right thing despite a difficult decision.”
Scotland senior Martin Locklear was recognized as the Scots’ best offensive lineman for his All-Conference and All-Region season, while wide receiver Tra’Shawn Gregory was awarded Best Wide Receiver honors for collecting 13 receiving touchdowns on the year. Gregory didn’t catch a single pass during Scotland’s 2011 season before being thrust into a starting role in 2012.
The best running back award was given to Jalen McLean, who had more than 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns from scrimmage en route to an All-Conference selection. Senior defensive lineman Ed Cain battled back from a pre-season injury to earn All-Conference honors in 2012, and was awarded the best defensive lineman by Bailey. With more than 140 tackles this season, senior linebacker and vocal team-leader Chris Moss was awarded for being the best linebacker on this year’s Scotland squad. And Shrine Bowl selection Malik Diggs was awarded the best defensive back for the Scots, capping off a decorated All-Conference and All-Region year for the SHS senior.
Most Improved was given to Ethan Hulon, who helped anchor a lauded Scotland offensive line that had many questions surrounding it at the start of the season. Senior linebacker Tim McNeil was presented the Most Dedicated award for his tireless commitment to the football team on and off the field, while Ryan Leak earned the Coaches Award for truly embodying what it means to be a standout student athlete in the eyes of coaches and teammates alike.
The MVP awards for offense, special teams and defense closed out the night: They were given to Conference offensive player of the year QB Jaylend Ratliffe, offensive lineman Bradley Baines and Conference defensive player of the year linebacker Artemis Robinson, respectively.
Before those in attendance exited the SHS auditorium Thursday night, Scotland Athletic Director Tommy Britt presented one last, and unexpected, honor. It was given to Scotland tennis coach Roller, who will retire at the end of the calendar school year.
Looking back at her coaching and teaching career, Roller saw the 2012 fall sports season as a fitting end to a career dedicated to seeing student athletes achieve their maximum potential.
“It was a special year for me, because I coached a lot of these seniors for all four years of their Scotland career,” Roller said. “I consider many of the children in this community as my children, and I’ve had a lot of great groups that have given me even better memories.”