LUMBERTON — For the second year in a row the Fighting Scots will start their pre-season off with a bang.
Scotland and Dillon will compete head-to-head, representing two of North and South Carolina’s top-tiered football programs.
The showdown is part of the fourth annual Battle of the Carolinas Football Classic which will be held at Alton Brooks Stadium in Lumberton on Aug. 9.
The jamboree pits 10 teams from North and South Carolina against each other. The head coaches from the participating teams got together on Friday for a press conference to give a rundown of how each of the teams are shaping up.
Scotland and Dillon are both coming off state championship appearances, and Scotland head coach Richard Bailey said his team looks a little different this season.
“We graduated 32 seniors. I feel like we will still competitive, but in Scotland County they don’t think anything changes. We are supposed to be really, really good,” Bailey said. “They (Dillon) are where everyone is trying to get to and it’s always a great matchup.”
Dillon went 15-0 last season and won the Class AAA state championship, 55-27 against Chapman while Scotland went 12-2 last season and lost in the 4A state championship 30-22 against Harding University.
The Fighting Scots return Syheam “Smiley” McQueen and Joseph “Poppa” McKoy in the backfield and have shifted wide receiver Bruce Wall to quarterback, which he played during JV. On the defensive side, rising junior Mohomed Kaba and rising senior Tyshoun Thomas are the returning starters for the Scots.
Lumberton’s new head coach Kelly Williamson is still trying to figure out who will take the field for his team during the scrimmage.
“I don’t know what I’ve got, I don’t know who’s going to play what at Lumberton right now,” he said. “Everybody looks good running around at 7-on-7, don’t they? I’m excited about our excitement here in Lumberton for this team. We will see what we can do.”
Williamson was hired in February, and took part in the first three Battle of the Carolina Jamborees at his prior coaching stop, West Brunswick.
Lumberton plays in the finale against newcomer Marion at 9 p.m.
Five games will be played during the event as Red Springs takes on Latta at 5 p.m., Fairmont goes against Lake View at 6 p.m., Purnell Swett battles East Bladen at 7 p.m. and Scotland and Dillon play at 8 p.m. in the games prior.
“There’s a lot of great football around here,” Williamson said. “You can throw a net over Scotland, Richmond, Dillon, Lake View and there’s a lot of good football close to us, and a lot of good football in this jamboree.”
Red Springs competes in the jambroee for the first time and second year coach Lawrence Ches sees this as an opportunity to challenge his team, and welcomes the matchup with Latta.
“I just want them to go fast and put pressure on us,” Ches said. “I’m happy they are giving us a quality look when we are at our worst. … We’ve got a really young secondary, and Latta runs the spread and uptempo offense, and I want to see how our secondary holds up against that offense.”
Jon Sherman has prepped for his first three seasons at Purnell Swett, but he faces a new challenge this time around with a young roster.
“It gives our kids the chance to feel those jitters and see who is going to step up with those jitters,” Sherman said. “Going into this season, outside of my first season not knowing who is going to step up, this is going to be a tough draw.”
For the fourth time in a row, Fairmont and Lake View battle in a meeting of two teams that are very familiar with each other — the two schools sit 11 miles apart.
The scrimmages will be two 20-minute running clock halves, with both halves and drives after scores starting with the ball on the 35-yard line. The one rule change made by the coaches at the press conference on Friday at the Village Station restaurant in Lumberton was to allow teams to punt the ball on fourth down to get the long snapper and punter reps. In the past, teams could elect to go for it on fourth down, or turnover possession and the ball goes 35 yards down the field. Teams without a punter will still have that option.
Teams competing in the event will get more than just the much needed reps of in-game action. Each school gets 100 tickets to pre-sale for the event at $5 apiece, along with $1,000 coming from participating in the event. The cost for tickets at the gate will be $7.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.