LAURINBURG — It’s been almost two years since Hoke won a football game. Scotland will try to keep that drought going when they face the Bucks in a road game on Friday night.
Hoke (0-5, 0-1 SAC) is searching for its first victory since Oct. 28, 2016, when the Bucks defeated Purnell Swett at home. Despite their struggles, Scotland head coach Richard Bailey said the Bucks are not to be overlooked.
“They’ve got some athletes,” Bailey said. “They’ve got a quarterback that can run and throw. Their offensive line is huge. Not too huge, but they’re big. We won’t face an offensive line bigger. They’ve got two starting offensive linemen that are over 350 pounds.”
Senior quarterback Xavier Ford runs Hoke’s offense.
“Offensively they’re pretty balanced, run and pass,” Bailey said. “They work mostly from the spread, the shotgun, like everyone’s doing these days, like we do.”
The Bucks’ defensive unit is led by senior middle linebacker Alex Plummer. Bailey said the Bucks also have agile defensive linemen who are capable of shedding blocks quickly.
Hoke’s defense will face two different quarterbacks on Friday night. Tyler Barfield and Mandrell Johnson will continue to split time under center for the Fighting Scots (2-2, 1-0 SAC), but a final decision on who will start and who will have the most playing time has not yet been made.
“It’s probably one of those things where I’ll continue to play both of them and see how it goes, and go with that,” Bailey said.
The Scots hope that Syheam “Smiley” McQueen will be able to return to the field after missing the last two games with an MCL sprain in his right leg. McQueen participated in workouts after being fitted for a brace this week, but Bailey said he’s going to remain cautious heading into Friday night’s game.
“The plan was for us to see him this week, but I’m not going to play him if I think he’s not good to go,” Bailey said. “I think most of his soreness is just muscle fatigue. He hadn’t used his leg in a long time. But I also don’t want to put him out there if I don’t feel like he can protect himself and be at 100 percent going forward.”
McQueen suffered the injury while being tackled during Scotland’s game against Durham Hillside on Aug. 24.
Scotland defensive back Tyshoun Thomas is also expected to return after serving a two-game suspension for an altercation against Hillside.
Bailey said pressuring Ford and executing special teams plays are two of the biggest keys for the Scots as they prepare to face the Bucks.
“I feel like we can make some plays on special teams, but we’ve got to make sure that they don’t make some plays,” Bailey said. “Offensively, we can’t have a bunch of bad snaps, blown plays or miscommunication. We’ve just got to eliminate errors on offense.”
The game is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. Because Hoke is celebrating homecoming on Friday night, all Scotland fans are asked to park on Hoke’s practice soccer fields, which are located behind the tennis courts.
Brandon Tester can be reached at [email protected] or 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.