LAURINBURG — Change is the buzzword surrounding Scotland football.
Just about everything is up in the air for the Fighting Scots heading into the 2018 season.
Coaching changes have abounded with the departure of defensive coordinator Cory Johnson, running backs coach Lonnie Cox and wide receivers coach Rangel Moore.
Johnson accepted the heading coaching job at Clinton High School in the offseason, Cox was named the offensive coordinator at Southern Lee High School and Moore became the assistant director of undergraduate admissions at UNC-Pembroke.
Other coaching changes are being finalized but have not been officially announced.
Scotland head coach Richard Bailey did let his players know before the start of spring practice Monday that he would be returning to his roots and assume the role of defensive coordinator.
Size is not one of the Scots strengths this season, but the coaches are looking to utilize the team’s speed on both sides of the ball.
Technique was the emphasis of Monday’s practice as the players broke into their different skill position groups. Returning starters Bruce Wall, who will likely transition from wide receiver to quarterback, and running backs Syheam “Smiley” McQueen and Joseph “Poppa” McKoy worked on hand offs, pitches and routes. Rising sophomore Tyler Barfield, who was the starting JV quarterback, also took reps under center.
On defense, the Scots return linebackers Mohamed Kaba, Nick Callahan and Josh McKenzie who worked with coaches Chad Hill and Hashan Tyson on footwork and intercepting passes.
Tight ends Ryley Barbour and Austin Norton worked with the wide receivers and quarterbacks under the direction of former Aggie quarterback Kwashaun Quick. Quick played quarterback for the Fighting Scots when they won the state championship in 2011 and returned last season as a volunteer. In the offseason he was named one of the assistant coaches.
The Fighting Scots are replacing a record 32 seniors, nearly all of whom played a vital role in the program. Of those 32 seniors, 15 signed athletic scholarships with 14 continuing their football careers and one running track.
The most prominent loss for will be University of Georgia running back Zamir White, who will return to Laurinburg next month to graduate with the rest of the Class of 2018. White finished all of his necessary high school credits and began his freshman year at UGA in January.
White, the reigning SAC-8 Offensive Player of the Year, ended his senior campaign with 148 carries for 2,086 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 holds four school records including 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.
The top rushing performance in a single game belongs to graduating quarterback Warren Bell, who signed as a running back with Lenoir-Rhyne University in February. Bell rushed for 380 yards on 16 carries against South Central to break White’s single game rushing record of 312 yards. Bell finished the year with 215 carries for 2,093 yards and 27 touchdowns.
The Fighting Scots also have to replace their entire offensive line with the graduation of Tim Williams, Darian Reeves, Garrett Beach, Hunter Sheppard, Isaiah McPhatter and Tyler Smith.
The defense is thin as well with the departure of linebackers Javon Ratliffe, Marqwues Wilson, Chris Williams, Kalish McNair and Keante McNair along with safeties Manny Smith, Laron Quick, Tyrek Waters and Davon Ratliffe.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]