1. Tragedy rocks Fairmont football community — Notable Fairmont High athletes Tyreke Addison and Nokolma Hunt died in a single-car accident involving five players on July 9. Addison, of 1102 E. Eighth St. in Lumberton, and Hunt, of 171 N.C. 904 in Fairmont, were passengers in the back seat of a 1994 Ford Thunderbird traveling north on N.C. 41, about one mile south of Fairmont, when the car ran off the road to the right, struck a tree and came to rest in a residential yard at about 8:58 p.m., according to the report by Trooper D. A. Raynor. “They slid off the road, started in a clockwise rotation, and struck the tree on the back left tire,” Sgt. Daniel Hilburn said. The car, which was destroyed, was traveling the posted speed limit of 55 mph. Addison was a two-time all-county selection by The Robesonian and paired with Hunt, a hard-nosed tailback, led the Golden Tornadoes to conference championships each of the last two seasons.
2. NCHSAA hands Golden Tornadoes postseason ban — For the first time in school history this fall, Fairmont’s football team was banned from the playoffs by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association after having multiple ejections for fighting in an early-season rivalry game against Lake, View, S.C. James Atkinson’s first season at Fairmont following Keith Wood’s resignation in February ended shortly after the Golden Tornadoes wrapped up a 4-7 campaign and failed in their quest at capturing a fourth consecutive conference title.
3. Flora Macdonald stripped of NCISAA state title — This spring, the Flora Macdonald Academy boys basketball team made history winning the school’s first-ever state championship when it defeated Greenfield in the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 1A final, 72-61. In October, that title was taken away by NCISAA for recruiting violations. FMA head basketball coach and athletic director Derrick Bond said the NCISAA notified him that it was investigating recruitment violations in early September, but what specific violations remain unknown to Bond.
4. Greene obliterates local defenses — Red Springs junior quarterback Blake Greene was one of six finalists for state player of the year and was named to NCPreps.com’s 1A All-State team after shattering several county records this season on his way to winning The Robesonian’s Heisman award. Greene helped the Red Devils advance to the third round of the playoffs and win the school’s first conference championship in seven seasons with 51 touchdown passes and 12 scores on the ground.
5. Area coaching icon loses battle with cancer — Alton G. “Tunney” Brooks, a man whose name was synonymous with Lumberton High School for almost 40 years, died in May following a three-year battle with cancer. He was 84. In addition to serving as the Lumberton High School athletic director, Brooks coached the basketball and football teams. From 1953 until 1980, his basketball teams won more than 300 games while he was coach. In 1993, the football stadium at the school was named Alton G. Brooks Stadium.
6. Allen arrives in California at Rose Bowl — Lumberton native and ACC referee Brad Allen saw his dreams come true in January when his crew officiated the 98th Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, Calif. The veteran official was in the national spotlight on the game’s final play after he waved off Russell Wilson’s spike and signaled the end of hte game as Wisconsin stood 25 yards from Oregon’s end zone. “It was interesting because I’ve never had a game end like that,” Allen said. “I don’t have any idea what the playcall or rationale was because I don’t question coaches or game strategies, but it was certainly an interesting ending.”
7. Henderson captures gold in 300m — Less than 24 hours after spraining his ankle in a St. Pauls basketball game, multi-sport star senior Antonio Henderson took first place in the state 300m indoor 1A/2A/3A championships with a time of 35.90. Seeing how athletic he is, I knew he would have a great opportunity (for gold) if he was healthy,” said veteran track and field coach David Shaw said. “He told me he was going to run indoor after qualifying at Pinecrest, but I don’t think we expected gold with that ankle. I don’t interfere with other sports my runners participate in, but I’m glad Antonio had time to come to Chapel Hill with us.”
8. Lumberton wins sixth Slugfest, Read honored — Even to longtime Lumberton baseball coach Paul Hodges, winning the Robeson County Slugfest never gets old. “It feels just as good as the other ones,” Hodges said in April. Since 2002, the Pirates have played in seven of the last 10 Slugfest championship games, winning six of them. “The boys get up for this tournament because they know we can build off of this — this is a great time to get hot.” In the final, Lumberton snuffed out Timmy Carter and South Robeson, 3-1, at Finley Read Field. Read, a member of the NCHSAA Hall of Fame, was honored this summer for his contributions to county athletics during a surprise party organized by Dave Bullock.
9. Swett’s girls, boys hoops team make playoffs — Jeremy Sampson and Danyel Locklear said it could be done. And they went out and proved it. Both new head coaches at Purnell Swett High guided their respective to the playoffs at a school that was sitting at bottom of the Southeastern Conference basketball barrel in recent seasons. Led by all-county point guard Juwan Jones, Sampson’s Rams finished above .500 for the first time in nearly a decade. Anchored by senior forward Laura Bird, whose final campaign included a 40-point, 15-rebound game against Hoke, the Lady Rams bounced back to respectability in the SEC and snapped a long losing skid against Lumberton. Bird was named The Robesonian’s Player of the Year for her efforts.
10. Fairley signs with McNeill, Pirates — National Signing Day this year was extra special for Red Springs’ football program as three Red Devils joined the college ranks headlined by defensive end Drayvon Fairley. Fairley became Robeson County’s first Division I football commit since 2006 when he said yes to East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill, a Lumberton native, over the final recruiting weekend alongside his mother, coach George Coltharp and McNeill’s wife, Erlene. Fairley redshirted with the Pirates this season and is expected to see playing time as a freshman next fall.
11. Locklear edges Wishart for first golf title — Brad Locklear sank a short putt for par to finish at 5 under overall with a 211 to claim his first Championship Division title of the Dial Insurance Agency 2012 Robeson County Golf Championship held at Pinecrest Country Club. “It feels good, I’ve been waiting for a long time to try to win,” Locklear said. This was his fifth year competing in the RCGC and fourth in the Championship Division. He finished fifth last year. After letting his one-stroke lead slip in the second round, Locklear orchestrated his best round of the tournament on the final day. Kyle Covington, the RCGC’s most decorated winner, a seven-time champ who captured five straight titles from 2006 to 2010, held a one stroke lead heading into the final day.
12. Brill calls it quits — Mike Brill’s resignation at the end of this season following six successful years at Lumberton was tough to swallow for an athletic department that lost one of its best, win-first coaches. As the mouthpiece for Lumberton football, Brill guided the Pirates to continuous trips to the postseason and always had competitive teams in the Southeastern Conference. At South Robeson prior, Brill won 90 games. Lumberton athletic director Tripp Satterwhite says the search for the Pirates’ next leading man is down to eight finalists, but those possible coaches don’t include Scotland’s Will Clark and St. Pauls offensive coordinator Scott Barbour. Barbour is staying with the Bulldogs while Clark accepted the head job at Roanoke Rapids last week.
Just missed the cut: Brackett joins UNCP’s 1000-point club; Fairmont pitcher takes top honors; Helmet sticker honors slain officer; Graves, Chavis resign at Swett; South Robeson hires Roberson; Duke’s Sapp an area pioneer
Reach Staff writer Brad Crawford at 910-272-6119 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at MrPalmettoSDS.