It’s one of several big games on Scotland’s schedule this year, but tonight’s game against Jack Britt feels different. For Scotland coach Richard Bailey, it might be one the most difficult to prepare for.
Bailey spent the first 12 years of his coaching career at Jack Britt until he was hired by Scotland two years ago. He was the school’s first football coach, building the program from the ground up. The two teams played last season, with Scotland winning 32-6 at Jack Britt, and Bailey said it’s still an emotional experience to play his old school.
“I still know most of their players, a few of the coaches are still there and I know a lot of the teachers. So I’m very fond of that community. My son’s named after the school,” Bailey said. “But you want to win that one as much as anything. You always want to beat your buddy, or your brother. Beating your buddy is some of the most fun there is. Last year was one of the best wins we had, and obviously they’re going to be gunning for us after we beat them last year.”
The loss to Scotland was one of just two regular-season losses for Jack Britt last season. The other was to E.E. Smith High School. Jack Britt went on to play in the Class 4AA state championship that season, losing to Butler 56-28.
Bailey said last year’s game was more emotional, coming so soon after changing jobs. He did not seek to play Jack Britt last season, as the game was already locked in on the Scots’ schedule. This year the Buccaneers found their way onto the schedule again, out of necessity.
“This year we chose to play them, because we couldn’t find anyone else. I wasn’t going out of my way to play them but we needed a game and they agreed to play,” Bailey said.
Both teams are coming into tonight’s game after relatively easy wins on last week’s opening night. Jack Britt beat Southeast Raleigh 34-9, while Scotland won 41-9 over South View.
Despite the overwhelming victory last week, the Scots played far from perfect against the Tigers, turning the ball over twice and not picking up blitzes early. Bailey said blitz pickups and defensive tackling were the two main focuses in practice this week.
“We didn’t do a great job of picking up blitzes. We’re trying to get better at that. And the defense (is working on) getting better at tackling. There were some times where we got them on the ground but we didn’t tackle well,” Bailey said.
There was one big change in practice this week — there is game film to watch.
“We actually had a game film now to sit down with the offensive linemen and wide receivers and show them their mistakes,” Bailey said. “It’s one thing for us to talk about it in practice and scrimmage games, but when you actually see it on film, see what it does when you make those mistakes and what it does to our team, that’s good for us.”
Bailey said the game film has been a huge help this week, and that his team should look much improved over the team that got off to a shaky start to the season last Friday.
“We’re just cleaning up a lot of the mistakes we made Friday night, especially the mental stuff. The kids learned a lot from last week and I think we’ll see a marked improvement this week. Hopefully, because if we don’t it’s going to be a different result.”
Jack Britt runs the same style of offense that Bailey brought with him to Scotland, a no-huddle, spread offense. It won’t all be familiar to Bailey, however, as coach Brian Rimpf has made his own modifications to the team since taking over when Bailey left.
Personal connections aside, Bailey said he is excited for what should be a great game between two powerhouse teams.
“You want to play big games. It’s just another big game but this one is a little different. It’s difficult for me just because of the situation but I’m fired up about it and the kids are fired up about it,” Bailey said.