LAURINBURG — The Scotland football team received some good news two days prior to its game on Friday against Purnell Swett: Running back Syheam “Smiley” McQueen could return as early as next week when the Fighting Scots play on the road at Hoke.
The team also received some bad news.
Junior offensive lineman Kendrell Sellers suffered a season-ending ACL tear, making him the fourth Scotland player to sustain a major knee injury this season.
Junior quarterback Bruce Wall and senior linebacker Josh McKenzie are sitting out this season with ACL injuries, and McQueen is recovering after going down with a sprained MCL earlier this season against Durham Hillside.
“If you count Zamir (White)’s from last year, that’s five in less than a year,” head coach Richard Bailey said, referencing the Scots’ starting running back whose senior season come to an early conclusion after an ACL tear. “That’s just freakishly bad luck, and hard to explain. It’s not like we’re doing anything different than anyone else does in the weight room or conditioning.”
The news about Sellers came on the heels of Hurricane Florence, a disaster that prevented all of Scotland’s teams from meeting for over a week.
Devastation caused by storm caused displaced many athletes at Scotland, including several players on the football team. Bailey said he is taking the storm’s effects into account as they prepare to take on Purnell Swett.
Friday night’s game will be the first game since Aug. 31 for both teams. After losing to Marlboro County on that night, Scotland (1-2) had a bye week. The team’s next two games — against West Mecklenburg and Jack Britt, respectively — were called off due to the hurricane.
Purnell Swett (2-1) most recently won 21-13 at Douglas Byrd.
Despite the circumstances, Bailey said he is confident that the Scots can be successful going forward.
“I still like we have a great chance to win some games,” Bailey said. “We had most of our kids back here at practice. We were only missing a couple for a couple of days, but literally we had the entire team back by Tuesday.”
Bailey said he expects that their will be some hiccups in his team’s execution on Friday night due to the hiatus caused by the storm.
“As a coach, you’ve got to understand that they’ve had their minds on some other things,” Bailey said.
The Scots will try to minimize those mistakes on defense as they work to contain Purnell Swett receiver Chandler Brayboy on Friday night.
Brayboy, a senior who is committed to play at Elon next year, is the Rams’ driving force on offense. After Pine Forest neutralized him in the first game of the season, Brayboy rushed for 102 yards and tallied 66 yards receiving against Ashley. He scored all three of Purnell Swett’s touchdowns against Douglas Byrd.
Brayboy also plays safety for the Rams.
“We’re definitely paying a lot of attention to him,” Bailey said. “Defensively there’s a lot of eyes on him, and offensively we’re trying to go where he’s not. He’s obviously the key to their success on both sides of the ball, so he’s a big part of our game plan. Hopefully we’ll be able to contain him.”
Bailey said pressuring Purnell Swett quarterback Micah Carter will help keep the ball out of Brayboy’s hands.
On offense, Mandrell Johnson will start at quarterback for the Scots after Tyler Barfield started the last two games.
The two sophomores split time at quarterback on the jayvee team last year. They had been competing for the varsity job ever since Wall tore his ACL during the team’s season opener against Matthews Butler.
“They’re both sophomores,” Bailey said. “It’s not like one of them should get some special privilege. They both started on the jayvees last year and played equal amounts. We’re going to probably play them both early, and then see who gets hot or who we’re moving the ball better with, and that’ll be who we go with.”
The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Pate Stadium.
Brandon Tester can be reached at [email protected] or 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.