Wednesday, 06 November 2019 21:51

Raider players, coaches talk meaning of Scotland rivalry

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Several Richmond players and coaches discuss the rivalry with Scotland. Several Richmond players and coaches discuss the rivalry with Scotland. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — When asked individually after Tuesday’s practice what the first thing was that came to mind when they thought about the football rivalry between Richmond and Scotland, two players and two coaches all said the same thing — “the best in the state.”

It’s rivalry week for the Richmond Senior High School football team, which means the 53rd all-time meeting with its No. 1 foe Scotland High School. Both teams enter Friday’s contest with a chance to claim a share of the Sandhills Athletic Conference title, a similar narrative found in so many of the meetings before.

Although the two communities less than 30 miles apart often coin the battle between the Raiders and the Fighting Scots the cream of the crop, the rivalry gains statewide notoriety every year. Currently, Richmond (10-0, 6-0 SAC) is the No. 1 team in 4A play, while Scotland (9-1, 5-1 SAC) sits as the No. 4 team.

Ahead of Friday’s game at Pate Stadium in Laurinburg, ROSports talked to sophomore nose tackle JD Lampley and junior quarterback Caleb Hood, along with wide receivers coach Andy Shuler and assistant head coach Greg Williams to offer their thoughts on what the storied rivalry means to them.

“It’s the best rivalry in the state, barnone,” Williams, a 30-year veteran coach, said. “It doesn’t matter what side of the field you stand on, it means the same to everyone. What makes it so great is that almost all the time (the game) is for a conference championship. 

“It’s special to both communities,” he continued. “It’s a big game that gives bragging rights for a year.”

Williams has the unique perspective of being on both sides of the fence, having started his coaching career at Scotland for five seasons (1990-1995) and doing another two-year stint in 2015 and 2016. But he’s spent the majority of his time at Richmond, coaching with the program from 2002 to 2014 before returning at the start of head coach Bryan Till’s tenure in 2017.

“This will be the 28th time, playing or coaching, that I will be a part of this rivalry,” Williams smiled. “It hasn’t really mattered what side I’m on because it ends up being a great game. I just want to do my part throughout the week to help the team win.”

Hood has spent the week game planning for his third round of the rivalry, and will look to give himself and the Raiders a winning record against the Scots during his time under center. In 2017, his freshman year, the Raiders lost a 69-47 shootout at Pate Stadium. A season ago, he captained the offense to a 23-8 home win to end the now broken eight-year losing streak.

“This rivalry means a lot to me because I grew up as a ball boy (for the Raiders) and it’s something I remember always wanting to be a part of,” Hood shared. “It’s always an important game and there’s a lot of weight on it every season.

“There’s a deep history between us and them and it’s really the best rivalry in North Carolina,” he added. “My experience in this game has helped my confience because I’ve won and lost. We have been working hard to get ready and I know the team is excited to get out there and play.”

Also getting in on the excitement of the rivalry is Shuler, who has both played and coached in the series in recent years. A two-year varsity player at Richmond who graduated in 2011, Shuler has spent the last handful of seasons working with an electric wide receiving group which is looking to do damage on Friday.

“This game almost always seems to come down to playing for all the marbles,” Shuler commented. “Ask anyone around this part of the state and they’ll tell you it’s the best rivalry. 

“The blood runs deep for me. I have so many memories from these games,” he recalled. “Each game is always a little different, but it’s always Richmond-Scotland. There are key aspects, key players and key plays that I remember from the early 2000s until now. It’s a big deal and I’m glad to be a part of it.”

On the other side of the spectrum is Lampley, who has had a solid first year on varsity as only a sophomore. At 6-3, 253 pounds, Lampley causes a lot of problems for a lot of opposing offenses by getting into the backfield, including forcing two interceptions on quarterback pressures last week.

Friday will be his first official introduction to the clash of the green and gold and blue and white, but it’s something he’s been anticipating for a long time.

“I’ve always watched this rivalry growing up and it’s been a goal of mine to play in it,” Lampley explained. “It’s exciting now that it’s finally here. I think I’m most excited to get out there and play in front of all the fans.

“Preparation is key for us if we want to win,” he closed. “All week we’ve been out here working hard getting ready and running scout team. Our team likes challenges and the Scotland game is one that we’re ready to face.”

The Raiders and Fighting Scots will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in Laurinburg.

Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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