LAURINBURG — An unanticipated four-week hiatus couldn’t stop the Scotland jayvee football team.
The team had two games cancelled and another matchup postponed this season due to the effects of Hurricane Florence, creating difficult circumstances for first-year head coach Thomas Havener and his players.
“We didn’t know who to prepare for,” Havener said. “We prepared for West Mecklenburg. We thought we could get it in, so we were preparing for a spread offense. They cut that off, so then we said, ‘OK, Let’s prepare for Purnell Swett or Jack Britt.’ We just knew it was going to keep getting called off.”
The Fighting Scots had a bye the week before they were originally scheduled to play West Mecklenburg. After the game against Purnell Swett was cancelled and the Jack Britt game was postponed, what started as a routine one-week break turned into a month away from the field.
The Scots defeated Hoke 38-8 on Thursday in Scotland’s first game since Aug. 30. Havener said he was impressed by his team’s execution against the Bucks.
“We didn’t play for a while,” Havener said. “I was really nervous that the kids were going to be nervous, and we were going to be a little sloppy. The defense came out and did what they had to do. Offense came out and drove the ball. They maintained ball security. We didn’t have any turnovers tonight.”
The win improved the jayvee team’s record to 2-1. The Scots finished 7-2 last season.
“We’re back to what we have been doing,” Havener said. “A tradition of winning and good football.”
Several players from last year’s jayvee team, including quarterbacks Tyler Barfield and Mandrell Johnson, have taken on significant roles with Scotland’s varsity team.
Havener said he is impressed with the play of jayvee quarterback Parker Byrd this season.
“He’s got a couple back mates, R.J. Nicholson and Jatavious McKayhan,” Havener said. “Those are our horses. Our wide receivers do a great job blocking and catching the ball. On defense, I’ve got two very good inside linebackers. I’ve got Dylan Jones and Messiah Revels.
“Up front, I’ve got Michael Locklear and Zaivyon Carmichael, and then one of our 10th-graders, Ufomah Ojeni. And then my defensive backs. We’re gelling so much now that my entire defensive unit has to be looked at.”
The varsity team has been hit hard by injuries this season, making it necessary for some jayvee players to step up to the next level.
“It was tough because J.J. McLean, he’s one of our wide receivers and he’s a three-way player, he had a punt return for a touchdown against Marlboro,” Havener said. “He’s one of our leading DBs. He goes up (to varsity) and he plays up there. And I’ve got a bunch of eight-quarter guys, so it’s managing who I can put in and how many quarters they can play.”
Per the NCHSAA, freshmen and sophomore junior varsity players can play a maximum of eight quarters per season with the varsity team, if depth issues create a need for it. For 3A and 4A schools, a maximum of five players per season can be given the eight-quarter designation.
“My coaching staff does a great job,” Havener said. “Whatever pieces we have, we’ll make it work and we’ll get stuff done.”
Brandon Tester can be reached at [email protected] or 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.