LAURINBURG — After starting 1-2 for the first time since 2009, the Scotland football team faced another setback when Hurricane Florence made landfall in the Carolinas on Sept. 14.
The hurricane, which hit the region as a Category 1 storm on that Friday morning and gradually weakened to a tropical storm over the weekend, brought torrential rain and heavy winds to southeastern North Carolina.
Businesses and homes were flooded, trees were toppled and power grids were shut down. Scotland High School wasn’t spared from the devastation left in the hurricane’s path. The school’s main gym flooded during the storm, making the facility inaccessible. Repairs could take as long as the rest of the school year.
Pate Stadium, the home of Scotland football, weathered the storm along with all of the school’s other outdoor facilities. But the effects of Florence prevented all of the Scotland’s teams from practicing and competing for more than a week.
The football team had a cancellation and a postponement because of the hurricane. The Fighting Scots’ game against West Mecklenburg originally scheduled for Sept. 14 was canceled, and the team’s Sandhills Athletic Conference opener scheduled for Sept. 21 against Jack Britt was rescheduled for Nov. 9.
Several football players had more to worry about than when they would be playing next.
“Families have been hit hard by the storm,” Scotland football coach Richard Bailey said prior to the team’s game on Friday against Purnell Swett. “I have a few kids who still aren’t back in their houses. They’re staying with relatives. We’re trying to look at the big picture.”
Scotland had a bye the week before the Scots were scheduled to play West Mecklenburg. The team had almost a month between its game against Marlboro County on Aug. 31 and its game on Friday against Purnell Swett.
That game against Marlboro County, a 41-25 loss for the Scots, came at a difficult time for Bailey’s team. Scotland was playing without quarterback Bruce Wall, linebacker Josh McKenzie and running back Syheam McQueen. Wall and McKenzie are out for the season with ACL injuries, and McQueen is potentially within a week of returning after suffering an MCL sprain during the team’s second game of the season.
Defensive back Tyshoun Thomas was serving the first half of his two-game suspension for an altercation against Durham Hillside a week earlier – and he didn’t have a chance to serve the second half of his penalty until the Purnell Swett game.
Scotland’s roster took another hit this week when it was revealed that offensive lineman Kendrell Sellers had suffered a season-ending ACL tear.
Senior running back Joseph “Poppa” McKoy and junior linebacker Nick Callahan both said they expect the Scots to power through the adversity they’ve faced early in the season.
“We came back and practiced harder,” McKoy said. “We wanted to play so bad.
“No matter what happens, we have to work harder. That’s the only thing we can do.”
Callahan echoed McKoy’s thoughts about being excited to get back on the field.
“We have to stay focused,” Callahan said. “Can’t lose focus.”
Brandon Tester can be reached at [email protected] or 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.