First Posted: 11/4/2014
ROCKINGHAM — To say the contest between Richmond Senior and Scotland is huge would be an understatement.
The winner of Friday’s rivalry game will not only earn the league championship and top seed out of the Southeastern Conference, but perhaps more importantly, bragging rights for another year.
Richmond coach Paul Hoggard said there will not be any changes to how his team will prepare for Scotland.
“Nothing any different…we are going to do what we do and do it well,” Hoggard said. “(We want to) play hard, try to make as few mistakes as we can. Let it all hang out and have fun.”
Hoggard’s counterpart, Scotland coach Richard Bailey, is taking the same approach — don’t mess with success.
“You can’t fool a lot of 17-year-olds now and practice longer or prepare any different than you have for the other games simply because we are playing Richmond,” Bailey said. “You try to keep it as routine as possible and stick to a schedule.”
Both agreed the contest will have huge playoff implications with the winner getting a shot at gaining the No. 1 overall seed and home-field advantage in the playoffs. The victor will submit a perfect 10-0 mark to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, while the loser will have a 9-1 record for seeding purposes.
Even though Scotland is currently 9-1, its lone loss was to Southern Durham in a non-conference clash, which would allow the school to drop that when sending its record to the NCHSAA. If Richmond were to lose Friday, it wouldn’t be able to drop the conference-game loss from its record.
“I think it’s important to win a conference championship and go undefeated,” Hoggard said. “The playoff thing will fall where it falls.”
FLIPPING THE SCRIPT
After years of playing second fiddle to the Raiders, the Fighting Scots have been able turn the tide over the last three years.
However, it is a drop in the bucket compared to the overall series between the two schools as Richmond holds a 35-11-1 advantage over its rival to the east.
The script flipped in 2011 when the Fighting Scots defeated the Raiders 41-7 at Pate Stadium en route to claiming their first state championship later that season. That victory for Scotland, in Chip Williams’ final year as coach, ended an 18-game losing streak to Richmond that stretched over 16 seasons.
Scotland continued its winning ways against Richmond the following season with a 21-14 victory at Raider Stadium. The win was the first for Bailey, the former head coach at Jack Britt, against Richmond in 10 tries, but it didn’t come easy.
After a Jaylend Ratliffe 25-yard touchdown put the Fighting Scots ahead, the Raiders had two opportunities to tie the game. The first ended on a fumble at the Scotland 44 with 1:19 remaining in the contest. The final came in the waning seconds but an incomplete pass on fourth-and-2 at the Fighting Scots 45 turned the ball back over to Scotland.
Last season, Scotland used three second-half defensive touchdowns to pull away for a 49-14 home victory. The contest was 14-7 at halftime. The Raiders committed a season-high seven turnovers in the loss.
LOOKING AT HISTORY
With a win Friday, Scotland will tie a school record with its fourth-straight victory over Richmond in series. The last time that occurred was in 1993 and 1994 when the Scots swept both of the games the teams played during those seasons.
If the Raiders were to fall, it would make the fourth consecutive year they haven’t won or shared a conference championship, one shy of the school mark. Richmond’s longest dry spell without a league title was from 1980 to 1985.
Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 and follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.