LAURINBURG — Tyler Barfield and Mandrell Johnson split time at quarterback for the Scotland jayvee football team last season. One year later, the sophomores are doing the same thing on a bigger stage.
That wasn’t the plan three weeks ago.
Before the Fighting Scots took the field for their season-opener against Matthews Butler in Charlotte, Johnson was listed as a receiver on Scotland’s roster. Barfield was the backup for starting quarterback Bruce Wall, who had transitioned to the position after finishing his sophomore year as the team’s leading receiver.
That changed when Wall suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the third quarter against Butler.
Barfield took over under center for the remainder of the game, and Johnson was announced as the team’s second option at quarterback prior to the Scots’ matchup against Durham Hillside last week.
Barfield had to deal with nerves as he made his first varsity debut against Hillside, while Johnson had to adjust to his new role in just one week.
“It was a challenge because I had to get ready for it, get back into the rhythm of playing quarterback,” Johnson said.
Johnson ran the offense sporadically against Hillside as Barfield played quarterback for most of the game. Barfield finished 6 for 11 with 88 yards and a touchdown. Johnson did not attempt a pass.
Johnson rushed for combined loss of 4 yards and was downed in Scotland’s endzone for a safety, but Scotland head coach Richard Bailey said the running back was facing difficult circumstances.
“It was really no fault of his own,” Bailey said. “I kind of put him in a bad situation every time he was in. We were pinned deep. That was sort of the series I told him he was going to get, and it kind of fell that way in the game. In hindsight, I probably should have kept Tyler in for those and found a different opportunity for Mandrell, but I like to keep my word.
“We’ll find things for Mandrell to do. It’s definitely still a competition. We’d love to settle on a quarterback. As the saying goes, if you have two quarterbacks you don’t have one.”
Barfield and Johnson have been working with multiple runningbacks in the backfield ever since starter Syheam “Smiley” McQueen left the game against Hillside with a sprained MCL.
McQueen is expected to miss up to six weeks with the injury, but Barfield said he is comfortable working with the rest of the runningback corps, a group that includes Joseph “Poppa” McKoy and Darrius Dockery.
“It’s a big hit, but we’ve still got runningbacks that can do the job,” Barfield said. “It’s not going to affect us too bad.”
“We played together (against Hillside),” Johnson said. “If we do that all year, we should win.”
Brandon Tester can be reached at [email protected] or 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.