LAURINBURG —A new era for the Scotland football team begins on Saturday.
The Fighting Scots will face Matthews Butler at 5 p.m. in a neutral site game at Memorial Stadium in Charlotte.
Butler has 28 seniors on its roster, almost as many as the 32 Scotland graduated last season.
After that wealth of experience paid off with a runner-up finish in the state championship game last year, Scotland head coach Richard Bailey now has a group of young players preparing to face a team that has won three state championships since 2009.
“I like our football team, but we’re young and we don’t have a lot of experience,” Bailey said. “We definitely don’t have very much varsity experience. For a lot of guys, Saturday will be their first varsity game in any kind of meaningful manner.
“We have some guys that we brought up in the playoffs last year and they played when we were blowing people out by 50 in the playoffs,” he added. “This will be their first meaningful game.”
Butler’s most recent state championship was in 2012 after the Bulldogs finished with an unblemished 15-0 record. The Bulldogs have another postseason run in their sights with a group of experienced contributors that includes quarterback Christian Peters and receiver Keyon Lesane, who is committed to North Carolina State.
Bailey said because it is the first game of the season, he is more concerned with how his team executes than he is about winning or losing.
“I’m more worried about if I see progress in our football team,” Bailey said. “But our kids are always going to go out there expecting to win, and I do too. We’re going to do everything we can to find a way to win the football game, but it is a challenge.”
Bruce Wall, who was the leading receiver for the Scots last season, will start at quarterback on Saturday. He has not played the position since his freshman year.
“We’ve got to work hard and play as hard as we can,” Wall said of his team’s mindset heading into its first game.
The game will be the first of two contests in the sixth annual Charlotte Kickoff Night. Dutch Fork will face Mallard Creek in the nightcap at 8 p.m.
Individual tickets can be purchased for $10 at cltkickoffnight.com.
Brandon Tester can be reached at [email protected] or 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.