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Tew: 'We deserve to be here'

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South Central's head coach Andy Tew talks to players during a timeout during their game against Knightdale on Nov. 17, 2017. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector

Friday, November 24, 2017

Based on history, tonight’s third-round state playoff matchup between South Central and Scotland County may appear to be a bit of a mismatch.

The Scots (10-1) are the top seed in the 4-A East bracket and have played in the state finals twice since 2011, claiming one championship. No. 4 seed South Central (10-2), on the other hand, is playing beyond the second round of the postseason for the first time in school history.

While past successes may tip the pregame scale Scotland County’s way, don’t try to sell Falcons coach Andy Tew on the idea of his team being an underdog in tonight’s matchup in Laurinburg.

“I’m sure in the back of folks’ minds or maybe in the back of our minds, you might think of an underdog mentality from a recruit level or a talent level, but we deserve to be here,” Tew said. “We earned the right to be here. We earned a first-round bye and won our second-round game. (Seeds Nos.) 1 playing 4 is how they draw it up, so we’re right where we’re supposed to be, and it’s because of the way these guys have prepared and the way they’ve played.

“I guess if people want to say we’re somewhat of an underdog, I don’t know that we would embrace that mentality, but I would say we are where we are because of what we’ve accomplished. Nothing has been given to us.”

The Falcons have already set a school record for wins in a season. Extending that record with a win at Scotland would put SC into the 4-A East Regional finals.

Scotland County has been a heavy favorite all year to match and improve upon last year’s appearance in the 4-A East finals, but the Scots were dealt a blow this week with the news that running back Zamir White — a Georgia commit and the nation’s top-ranked running back recruit — suffered a torn ACL in their second-round win over Seventy-First.

White had rushed for more than 1,900 yards and 31 touchdowns at the time of his injury, leaving a glaring hole in Scotland’s rushing attack, but not having to account for him did little to affect South Central’s plans for this week because his absence simply means the Falcons will likely see a bigger dose of Syheam McQueen.

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound junior back has been limited to just 385 rushing yards this year due to injury, but he has offers from South Carolina and N.C. State.

“(White’s injury) didn’t really change our preparation because we focus so greatly on us and what we want to do to try to put the best team out there, but it is in the back of your head that an offensive weapon like that won’t be able to play,” Tew said. “The other side of that coin is that the other running back (McQueen) is just as talented, in my opinion, as the guy who went down. When we started watching them on film, (McQueen) and (White) were both really talented.

“I’m sure they play by the same mantra as we play that when one goes down, the next man steps up, and the next guy they’ve got up is pretty good as well.”

South Central has plenty of offensive firepower with which it will attempt to counter Scotland’s offense.

The Falcons amassed 594 total yards in last week’s 64-36 win over Knightdale, 363 of which came on the ground. Leading rusher Nazir Monroe-Smith ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Dexter McDuffie guided the offense through the air (231 passing yards, three TDs) and on the ground (104 yards, two scores).

The Scots allow an average of 25.3 points per game, while the Falcons are 4-A’s top scoring offense at 52.5 points per contest. Tew said the likely key to his team winning, though, would be performing defensively against an offense that averages 50.8 points per game.

“Their strength is probably going to be their offense,” he said. “They’ve got a really big offensive line. They spread the athletes around, so that’s going to be a tall order and we’re going to have to do the best we can to contain their athletes. ... It’s going to have to be a total effort from a defensive perspective.”

Contact Jordan Anders at janders@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 or follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.

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