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Scots celebrate state football title with hometown fans
December 6, 2011Southeastern Conference
From The FayObserver.com
LAURINBURG - The procession through downtown Sunday was technically the city's annual Christmas Parade.
But with all of the nearly 70 members of the Scotland football team serving as grand marshals, coach Chip Williams said the parade felt like a victory march.
"Santa was there," Williams said. "But it certainly had that feel."
The Fighting Scots, along with the team's droves of supporters, have plenty to celebrate.
The team won its first state championship Saturday, topping Porter Ridge 42-16 at Wake Forest's BB&T Field to take the NCHSAA 4-A title.
With the win, the Scots completed a perfect 15-0 season, a reward for the players' hard work and the dedication of the team's rabid fan base.
Scotland has long had a reputation for garnering a ton of community support, but the success of this year's team has turned the players into town VIPs.
"On the way back from the game Saturday night, we had a sheriff's escort," Williams said. "By the time we got back to Scotland County, we had 12 police cars escorting us back to the school."
Even that motorcade didn't compare to what awaited the Scots upon arrival at the school.
"It was jam-packed," Williams said. "I don't even know how many people were there. I'll just say it was a lot."
Among the crowd was Greg Baines, whose son, Brad, is a junior offensive lineman with the Scots.
"I wouldn't be surprised if there were 500 people there," Baines said.
Baines, a local certified public accountant, organizes an informal fundraising and support group for the football team dubbed "Tailgate Tuesday."
"We get together every Tuesday with the coaches," Baines said. "We sit down and have supper and talk about last week's game."
Williams says it's hard to say exactly how many people participate in Tailgate Tuesday, but membership in the informal club is up this year.
"It depends on if we're winning," the coach said. "This year, we've probably got 50 people."
The club helps raise funds specifically for the football team, above and beyond the contributions gathered through the school's official athletics booster club.
Baines said community involvement has been particularly high this year.
"Especially with the businesses and those people really involved in the community," he said. "If we needed something, they provided it."
And now, everyone - people with or without a direct connection to the team - wants in on the success.
"Everybody wants a T-shirt or a bumper sticker," Baines said.
Receivers Seyyon Moody and Derrick Barnes, two of the team's 38 seniors, said it has been met with support throughout the community.
"They've treated us like celebrities," said Moody, who caught a touchdown pass to tie the game in the second quarter Saturday.
"People really do recognize you out on the street," Barnes said. "People you don't know, or that you wouldn't expect to know you.
"But the community knows how hard we've worked, and that's why we won. It makes them really supportive."
Staff writer Jaclyn Shambaugh can be reached at 609-0651 or firstname.lastname@example.org.