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Battle of the Carolinas Boasts Strong Field

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 Coach Robby Priest is on the left, and Coach Richard Bailey is third from the right.
Coach Robby Priest is on the left, and Coach Richard Bailey is third from the right.

LUMBERTON – Coaches from the ten schools participating in this year’s Battle of the Carolinas Football Classic gathered at Lumberton High School Friday to talk about their team’s prospects for the upcoming season and about the upcoming Classic which features 4 teams from South Carolina and 6 from North Carolina.

Headlining the group was Dillon Coach Jackie Hayes whose Wildcats have won their last 37 games and captured four straight state championships. Dillon will play Purnell Swett in the Classic at 8 p.m. on August 10th.

Lake View has won 9 South Carolina Class 1A state championships. The Gators kick-off  the Classic against Fairmont at 5 p.m.

Perennial Class 4A power Scotland will battle East Bladen at 6 p.m. “Our fan base is behind me as long as we win or tie,” laughed Scot Coach Richard Bailey. The Scots finished 12-1 last season and captured their fifth consecutive Southeastern Conference championship.

Coach Bailey’s Scots return 4 starters on offense and 4 on defense. “However our jayvee team was undefeated last year,” he said. “Sergio Gibson who started 3 games for us at quarterback is back, and Zamir White is the No. 1 running back in the U. S.” White ran for 2,159 yards and 41 touchdowns.

“This might be our best offensive line group,” continued Bailey. “We probably have ten guys that can play. On defense we have 4 junior linebackers who are as fast as any we’ve had, and we have 3-year starters at nose guard (Octavis McLaurin) and safety (Donta Green).”

“Expectations are always high,” concluded Coach Bailey. “For our fan base anything short of a state championship is a disappointment.”

“I don’t know who I made mad to draw Scotland,” said East Bladen Coach Robby Priest. “I look at it as a positive thing. I doubt we play anyone that good the rest of the year. It is a chance for our kids to play against a powerhouse and we are looking forward to it.”

“We will run the wing-T on offense, and line-up in a 40 on defense,” continued Priest. “We lost a lot of high character guys last year, and we won’t be as big but we will be a whole lot faster.”

“We have some skill guys returning in Ethan (Hines) and Eian Hines, but we need to find a quarterback,” said Coach Priest. “Our offensive line should be improved.”

The Eagles finished 10-3 last season and reached the second round of the play-offs. “Our defense will be more athletic,” noted Priest. “They will be more fun to watch, and more like the East Bladen defenses of old.”

West Brunswick will play Latta at 7 p.m., and the final game of the evening will pit host Lumberton against Marlboro County, SC.

Each game in the Classic will consist of two 12-minute quarters with a running clock. A year ago East Bladen led until the closing seconds when Latta scored and tacked on a 2-point conversion for an 8-7 win.

All of the schools were given 100 advance tickets that the public can purchase for $5 each. Admission at the gate will be $7. Concessions will be available, and organizers are looking at adding additional seating after the big response to last year’s Classic.

James Granger, an organizer of the event said, “It is a big deal for this community. Having schools of the caliber that we have here gives folks a chance to watch some good football.”

In case of bad weather, the make-up date for the Classic will be the next night (August 11).