Shaun Hayes knew his team did not need to hear his message about continuing to the page given everything that has transpired for Maryville College already this season. The fourth-year head coach, however, did want to make sure the point was driven home.
Success is fickle, but if the Scots wanted to hang their hat on the program’s first victory over Huntingdon since 2007, it would also be fleeting.
“Every single week you have to be you and be consistent,” Hayes told The Daily Times. “If you don’t, and you feel like Saturday was the greatest thing ever, you can turn around and lose. Nobody in this conference is bad, and nobody in this conference is dominant.”
Methodist, the Scots’ opponent today at 1 p.m., learned that the hard way last week. The Monarchs (1-3, 1-1 USA South) defeated Huntingdon on Sept. 29 only to turn around and lose to Brevard — a team Maryville (2-2, 2-0) beat, 29-3 — the following week.
That change of fortune highlights the difference in the USA South this season as compared to other years. The conference is up for grabs, and any team that overlooks an opponent runs the risk of suffering a crippling loss.
“They recognize it, but it is one of those things that you never really understand it until it happens to you,” Hayes said. “We just have to be detailed in everything we do so hopefully we don’t understand because we don’t want that to happen to us.”
Maryville travels away from the friendly confines of Honaker Field for the second time this season, the first of which resulted in a 38-3 season-opening loss to Berry.
The travel in the USA South is one of the aspects that makes the conference tough — Maryville is a 6 1/2-hour drive from Fayetteville, N.C. — but the Scots have a surprising amount of maturity for a young team and have only grown as the season has progressed.
“I want us to be us, regardless of the environment, weather, a call on the field or anything else,” Hayes said. “If we’re playing here or there, it shouldn’t matter. But there are things that are different, and that’s where we rely on our captains.”
“This team is different than some other ones, but they remind me a lot of the 2016 team because they are able to have fun and enjoy the moment, but not make it an immature environment. There is a lot of accountability within the team and that makes going on the road easier.”
Once it gets off the bus, Maryville will have to contend with a Methodist team that has run wild through its first four games, pitting each of its strengths against each other.
The Monarchs average 299 rushing yards per game, which is 112.5 yards more than the second-highest average in the conference (N.C. Wesleyan). The Scots, on the other hand, allow the fewest rushing yards per game in the conference and the 29th-fewest in the country at 77.8.
“We have to be gap sound and tackle in open field,” Hayes said. “If you can figure out how to make them one-dimensional, which nobody has done yet, you have a good chance. If they are able to run the football with success, then their play action and vertical strikes makes them a dangerous football team.”
It appears Maryville will enter Monarch Stadium understanding how dynamic the Monarchs can be.
Last week’s victory over Huntingdon was big for the program, but the Scots have loftier goals than that one win. Achieving them starts by treating each opponent like their last.
“If you come out thinking you’re good enough to show up and win, or if you think that the other team is not that good, it can be a sad, sad Saturday night,” Hayes said. “Thankfully, I feel like our guys have done a good job of being as consistent as ever.”