LAURINBURG — Scotland High School hosted its annual fall banquet Thursday night, where coaches from each fall sport honored their student-athletes with end-of-season awards.
The proceedings, which lasted less than an hour, opened with Athletic Director David Johnson thanking the student-athletes, parents and coaches for their hard work and dedication during the year.
Girls golf coach Matt Justin was the first coach to hand out awards and his speech was short and sweet because the two members of this year’s girls golf team were unable to attend due to conflicts with other commitments. Despite their absence, Justin announced that Abigail Gibson received the Coach’s Award and Ashlyn Soles earned Most Improved.
Girls tennis coach Atondra Ellis reflected on her team’s successful season. The Lady Scots finished the year 8-6 overall and finished fifth in the newly formed Sandhills Athletic Conference.
“Half the team had never picked up a racket before, so we were doing a lot of teaching,” said Ellis. “The folks I chose for the MVP, Coach’s Award and Most Improved, I had some help from the team. They decided who needed to be Most Valuable Player.”
Senior Cheyanne Strong was named MVP while first-time tennis player senior Justice McCrimmon took home Most Improved and junior Liza McIntyre took home the Coach’s Award.
Cross country coach Greg Wrape credited his team for sticking with the sports, despite his at times grueling training schedule.
“I appreciate my runners who logged a lot of miles in hot weather.” he said.
Scotland’s boys team finished third in the SEC behind Pinecrest and Jack Britt. For their efforts, Tony Strickland won Male Runner of the Year. Freshman Madison Williams won Female Runner of the Year, as the first female runner for Scotland to advance to state. Sophomore Madylin McMillan took home the Most Improved award and freshman Audrey Lane earned the Coach’s Award.
First-year coach Mallory Wheeler presented the volleyball awards, her Lady Scots finished 15-11 overall and 8-6 in the SEC this season. The Lady Scots finished third in the conference standings and appeared in the first round of the 4A state playoffs.
“Kandon always had a positive attitude in practice, she’s a player who is always open to criticism and never complained. She always had a smile on her face and encouraged her teammates,” said Wheeler.
Two-time all-SAC-8 senior Kandon Luquer was named the team’s MVP and the Coach’s Award. Freshman Skylar York and senior Macie Gibson also took home some hardware. York received Most Improved and Gibson won the Defensive Award.
Scots soccer coach Danny Gallagher took the podium next to talk about his team and their accomplishments. The Scots finished 4-17-2 overall and 2-10-2 in the conference and had two players selected to the all-SAC-8 squad in seniors Donovan O’Donnell and Nyjel Collins-Jackson.
“Donovan started as a forward his freshman year, then moved to mid-fielder sophomore and junior year then we had a big hole in the back and we needed someone who was smart who could fill in and organize the boys,” said Gallagher. “I listened to coach Bailey and if the guys are deserving they should get the recognition. Donovan has played every position, except goalie.”
O’Donnell took home two awards — the Defender’s Award and MVP. Collins-Jackson earned the Coach’s Award and junior A.J. Politcsh earned Most Improved.
Bailey rounded out the coaches by handing out a dozen football trophies. The Scots finished 12-2 this year and won their seventh straight conference championship. The Scots advanced to the 4A East Regional Championship game beating Hoggard in overtime, 47-46 before falling to Harding University in the 4A state championship, 30-22. Bailey mentioned that the 2017 senior class set has managed to win 42 consecutive conference games and are 26-3 in their last two seasons.
“I’m very blessed to have a great coaching staff. I get way too much credit — at this point in my career it’s all on the assistant coaches and all the hours they put in. I just try and organize everything and get out of the way and let them do their job,” Bailey said.
Zamir White was named the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year — after a stellar high school career.
The Scots workhorse ended his senior campaign with 148 carries for 2,085 rushing yards with 34 rushing touchdowns and 38 total touchdowns. For his high school career, White tallied 738 carries for 7,168 yards with 119 rushing touchdowns and 127 touchdowns.
White’s legacy as a Scot will forever be in the history books as Scotland’s all-time leading rusher; single-season leading rusher to go along with the school’s leading rusher in touchdowns for his career and in a single season. He also holds three of the top five all-time rushing performances in a single game.
For his efforts, White received the Running Backs Award. Also taking home hardware for the Scots offense was right tackle Tyler Smith with the Offensive Linemen Award; senior Khalil Smith with the Wide Receiver Award and senior quarterback Warren Bell was named the Offensive MVP.
Senior T.J. Smith won the Defensive Linemen Award. Fellow seniors Javon Ratliffe and Manny Smith also received trophies. Ratliffe earned the Linebacker Award and Smith received the Defensive Back Award. Senior kicker Tripp Wells was named the Specialist MVP and senior Chris Williams took home the Defensive MVP award.
The final three awards went to three deserving players according to Bailey, that stepped up to become leaders and worked hard to achieve their goals. Senior offensive lineman Garrett Beach won Most Improved while senior wide receiver Trey Dixon took home Most Dedicated.
Bailey couldn’t forget two key seniors on his roster, that made the Scots trip the state championship possible — senior back-up quarterback Desmond Davis and center Hunter Sheppard each took home the Coach’s Award.
“This young man, Desmond Davis, could have blown the whole thing up. He can into the season thinking he was going to be the starting quarterback, a young man moved in and replaced him. He could have gotten a negative attitude, but he didn’t,” said Bailey. “He showed up every day and played quarterback, running back, wide receiver and on special teams. He is what made this year possible.”
The banquet concluded with SHS Principal Brian Edkins presenting Bailey with his sixth consecutive Coach of the Year award, this time for the Sandhills Athletic Conference, to end the evening.
Scotland will have an end-of-the-year banquet when winter and spring sports wrap up in May.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]