LAURINBURG — After what Scotland football coach Richard Bailey called an “eye-opening” loss on the road against Matthews Butler in the team’s first game of the season, the Fighting Scots take on Durham Hillside at home on Friday.
Scotland (0-1) lost 47-19 to Butler and paid an even higher price, losing its starting quarterback for the rest of the season on a rainy Saturday evening in Charlotte. Junior Bruce Wall suffered a torn ACL in his right leg after being tackled while scrambling out of the pocket.
The Scots also announced this week that senior linebacker Josh McKenzie had undergone surgery to repair an ACL injury that happened during practice before the season began.
That meant a loss of senior leadership, something the Scots don’t have a lot of this year.
“We really just don’t have a lot of seniors to help these young guys understand the importance of it,” Bailey said. “There’s a tendency when you have a lot of youth to take the mentality of, ‘We’ll have next year and the year after that to win a state championship.’
“The more people you have on your team that feel the desperation of their last go-around, the better off you are,” he added. “We only have about nine of those types, and only four or five of those actually play.”
Bailey said two sophomores, Tyler Barfield and Mandrell Johnson, will see playing time at quarterback against Hillside (1-0). Barfield will get the starting nod after taking over for Wall in the second half of last week’s game.
The duo split time at quarterback on Scotland’s jayvee team last season. Johnson had been listed as a receiver up to this point, and Bailey said he has been working on getting up to speed with the offense during practice this week.
Barfield completed two of his five passes for a total of 30 yards against Butler. He also had a 1-yard rushing touchdown.
Barfield said he is ready for his start on Friday night, and senior running back Joseph “Poppa” McKoy vouched for his ability to run the offense.
“I think Tyler feels good with the system, and he knows what to do and what it takes to win,” McKoy said.
Barfield and the Scots face a team that defeated New Bern, 37-8, last week.
Hillside tallied three passing touchdowns in the second half against New Bern after taking a 16-8 lead at halftime.
Scotland defeated Hillside 34-21 on the road last season.
Bailey said he’s not sure what he’ll see out of his team when they take the field on Friday, but he knows that last week’s loss to Butler isn’t bothering the Scots anymore.
“They were pretty resilient,” Bailey said. “Kids get over it a lot quicker than coaches do. They really do. Halfway into the bus ride home from Charlotte, most of those guys were over it. I’m not over it now.”
Friday’s game at Pate Stadium kicks off at 7:30 p.m.
Brandon Tester can be reached at [email protected] or 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.