The population of Laurinburg, N.C. -- where state football powers Mallard Creek and Scotland County will kick off the football season Thursday night -- is about 15,000.
Scotland County football coach Richard Bailey said he expects as many as 8,000 people, many from Laurinburg, to fill the stands for Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. game. It’s the first game of the high school football season and it’s a big one.
Scotland County is ranked No. 2 in two statewide preseason polls. Mallard Creek is No. 3.
Both teams are state championship contenders: Scotland in N.C. 4A; Mallard Creek in 4AA.
“It’s a big deal down here,” Bailey said. “We have a big fanbase and we always sell a lot of tickets, and tickets are flying off the shelf down here. But this feels like a late-round playoff game.”
Bailey said his school gave Mallard Creek 1,000 tickets to sell pregame and that the Mavericks were having a busload of fans coming.
“I suspect,” Bailey said, “if you’re coming, that you better get here early.”