LUMBERTON — For the second time in as many years, Scotland and Dillon faced off Thursday as part of the fourth annual Battle of the Carolinas Football Classic at Lumberton High School.
The teams are now even at 1-1 with Dillon winning this year’s bout, 18-7, showcasing the returning talent from their 2017 state championship team.
With a limited number of returning starters, the Scots didn’t look as polished as they have in previous years, but head coach Richard Bailey said that comes with experience — something his team is lacking in spades at the moment.
“Dillon has a lot of returning players off a state championship team. They are a lot more used to doing what they’re doing and, I’ll be honest, they pulled out some stops — they went unbalanced, brought guys over, jetted people — things you typically don’t see in scrimmage games,” said Bailey. “That’s what they do and they’re ready, a lot like we usually are; a team that’s really good right now. We have a lot to learn and a lot to do, but I saw some good things from some people, and some not so good.”
School isn’t back in session for another two weeks, but Bailey said he would grade his teams performance a C-minus. The offense had some shining moments with a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Bruce Wall to sophomore wide receiver Trey Chavis and good runs by Syheam “Smiley” McQueen, Joseph “Poppa” McKoy and Darrius Dockery.
The youth and inexperience of the defense was evident against the high octane Wildcats offense. Senior returning defensive back Tyshuon Thomas put on a show with several tackle for loss.
“Tyshuon played hard and he’s going to play hard. It would be hard for me to like a football player in our program, ever, more than him,” Bailey said. “We have to get better at the linebacker spot and the secondary had mental breakdowns. It’s frustrating, but we’re young. We have a lot of guys that haven’t even played much football back there. Kavon Green has never played defense and is playing safety. He’s got a lot to learn. We’re going to be OK, but it’s a work in progress.”
The scrimmage was a stepping stone for the Scots and their first and only of the preseason due to their scrimmage against Cape Fear getting rained out Wednesday. Bailey would have liked more game-like scrimmages before taking on Butler next weekend, but now he has six days to prepare for one of the top five teams in the state.
The “loss” to Dillon in the scrimmage was a letdown, but there aren’t any championship rings handed out after a scrimmage victory. Despite some of the players being discouraged on Thursday, Bailey said it’s all part of the growing process for his team.
“It is hard when you’re used to so much success and you have a letdown,” he said. “They have a very good team and are much better than us right now, but we’ll get there. We have a long, long, long way to go.”
Amber Hatten-Staley is the former sports editor for the Laurinburg Exchange.