Thursday, December 7, 2017

4A Preview: Scotland vs. Harding

The 4A state championship game features two teams with head coaches that are each seeking their first title. Richard Bailey and the Scotland Fighting Scots are looking for their second title in school history while coach Sam Griner and the Harding Rams are looking for their first title in over 60 years.

BB&T Field

Scotland rushes for an amazing 425 yards per game on average. Most that yardage had come from the nation's top-ranked running back Zamir White, but the five-star, Georgia-bound recruit suffered a torn ACL in the second round of the playoffs and will miss the title game. Stepping up in White's absence has been senior quarterback Warren Bell and junior running back Syheam McQueen who have collectively rushed for over 2000 yards to keep the chains moving for the Fighting Scots.

Scotland won an overtime thriller in the regional final against Hoggard. After Hoggard had rallied from a 25-point deficit to force overtime and scored a touchdown to pull ahead, Scotland scored on a fourth-down on its possession and had a successful 2-point conversion for the win.

Like Scotland, Harding relies on its running game to get its offense moving. Lining up in the backfield is junior Quavaris Crouch, listed by some scouting services as the nation's top junior running back. Blocking for Crouch is Shrine Bowl-bound offensive lineman JoVaughn Gwyn.

Defensively, the Harding Rams have been stingy and have not given up twenty points in a game since September. Also, like their title game counterparts, Harding had to rely on a big play at the end of the game to defeat their opponent in the regional final. An interception with no time remaining in the end zone secured the win against Vance and sent the Harding Rams back to the title game for the first time in thirty years.

One interesting feature in this game is that both teams come into the game with only one loss, but that one loss was for each team was to the same opponent, 4AA state finalist Mallard Creek. Scotland played Mallard Creek in the season opener, falling 28-21 while Harding played a tough game against Mallard Creek in week 5, losing 30-9.