LAURINBURG — May showers put a damper on the Fighting Scots 10 days of Spring practice, which wrapped up on Friday.
Scotland head coach Richard Bailey said the team did what they could, but only got on the field five of the 10 days. Two days practice was canceled all together and the other three days were spent in the gym dodging afternoon thunderstorms.
“I thought it was April showers bring May flowers. I don’t know what’s coming in June but the rain came in May,” Bailey said. “I felt good about what we got accomplished. Offensively, we’re changing a lot of our stuff but I think the kids picked it up well.”
Change is abundant for the Fighting Scots staff with five varsity coaches departing in the offseason.
Defensive coordinator Cory Johnson, offensive coordinator Keith Wood, wide receivers coach Matt Grady, defensive backs coach Dennis McFatten and running backs coach Lonnie Cox.
Johnson accepted the heading coaching job at Clinton High School and will be joined by Grady and McFatten. Cox was named the offensive coordinator at Southern Lee High School and Wood took the offensive coordinator job at West Brunswick.
Finding replacements for those vacancies has been an uphill battle for Bailey, but two former Scots — Dominque Green, a 2012 graduate, and Dawson Shelley, a 2014 graduate, — will take over coaching the defensive backs and tight ends.
“Dominque Green joining the staff has been huge,” Bailey said. “Anytime you get a guy who was a two-year starter at North Carolina, that’s a big addition. Dawson has been working with the football program at UNCP in a managerial capacity and played for me here and understands my expectations.”
Former Southeastern Louisiana offensive coordinator Matt Barrett has stepped down from the collegiate level and will be the Scots new offensive coordinator.
“Matt Barrett has been coaching in the college ranks for 18 years,” Bailey said. “He has a wealth of experience. Our guys are going to be coached exactly like they would at a Division I college. I told them they all act like they want to play college ball, well he’s going to demand of you exactly what it takes to get there.”
Bailey will assume the role of defensive coordinator, which is where he started his coaching career. Chad Hill and Paul Adams will also return on the defensive side while Scott Barbour will continue to coach the offensive line.
“I’m moving over to defense, which is not new to me, that’s what I did for the first nine years of my career. Like what Cory is doing at Clinton, when I got my first head coaching job I took defensive coaches with me and gave the defense to them and I coached the offense,” he said.
In terms of players, the Scots will be young with eight seniors and four returning starters — two on offense and two on defense.
On defense, senior Tyshoun Thomas will anchor the secondary and Mohamed Kaba will return as an outside linebacker. On offense, rising junior Bruce Wall will move from wide receiver to quarterback and Syheam “Smiley” McQueen will return for his senior season in the backfield.
Players that saw some playing time last season include rising senior Joseph “Poppa” McKoy who will share time in the backfield with McQueen and play defensive back. Rising senior Josh McKenzie, sophomore Nick Callahan and sophomore Jason Romero and rising senior Tymere Graham played linebacker and defensive end.
During the 10 days of practice, Bailey was able to see what his offense and defense could look like in August — there is still work to be done with the young Scots, but Bailey feels good about the direction the team is headed.
“We were able to do things outside of the 10 days because of the relaxed rules from the NCHSAA, so it wasn’t like we just had those spring practice days,” he said. “We’ve been doing things a couple times a week since March, I feel like we could play a game with what we have right now and we would be able to function. We’re not as good as we need to be, not even close, but I feel good that we’ve accomplished a lot.”
The Fighting Scots first summer practice will be June 18 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The team’s first 7-on-7 will take place the following day at 6 p.m. at Purnell Swett. The first official day of practice for the 2018 season will be July 30 from 6 to 9 p.m.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]