Smithfield: Sports

Meekins, a two-time state champ at Princeton, retiring

Brandon Banks
Brandon Banks AP

Former Princeton baseball coach Kenny Meekins, who was inducted into the N.C. Baseball Coaches Association on Saturday night, is ending his run in high school athletics. Meekness is retiring from teaching and his athletic director post at Manteo High School later this month.

He led Princeton to state 1A baseball championships in 1992 and 1994 (with current Princeton head coach Bruce Proctor as an assistant and current Princeton assistant Justin Willoughby as a player) before shifting to Manteo to lead the Redskins’ baseball team and athletic department. Manteo won the 1996 state 2A baseball title.

“The good Lord has blessed me,” Meekins told the Outer Banks Sentinel last week. “I’m a blessed human – my wife, family and two kids who are on their own with good jobs. I had a lot of success early in my coaching career.”

The 53-year-old will stay involved in athletics by officiating in football, volleyball and basketball, as well as travel more with his wife, Emma, a Benson native.

I met coach Meekins through Bruce Proctor during the old Saturday doubleheaders the Bulldogs and Skins used to play early in the season. He is a true North Carolina high school baseball treasure.

And he was one of the coaches who helped make Princeton athletics, “Princeton athletics” through the years. I always enjoyed running into him at a high school game and chatting. You’ll find few better people to chat with on a 70-degree, sunny afternoon while watching baseball.

That state championship feeling: The NCHSAA crowned its eight state high school football champions this past weekend. It’s always a memorable time for the schools involved. We’ve had some talented teams in the area but no state champions since the 1980s.

Thanks to Clayton business owner and fan Rob Baker you can watch the last of those teams on YouTube, the 1989 Comets. Baker uploaded a short, but memorable, highlight video and the full game video to the site.

If you want to see what that state championship feeling is like, check them out. We’ve posted the links on the Clayton News-Star’s Facebook page so they’re easier to find.

While you’re on YouTube do a search for Garner 1987 as well.

Banks is a CFL All-Star again: Garner High graduate Brandon Banks has been raking in honors ever since the 2015 Canadian Football League season ended last month. Banks was named the winner of the 2015 John Agro Award as the league’s most outstanding special teams player and has also been named to the CFL All-Star team. He is the lone special teams player listed on the All-Star roster.

The 5-foot-7, 153-pound Garner resident had four punt returns for touchdowns this season, one shy of the CFL single-season record. He scored six total touchdowns and ranked third in the CFL in all-purpose yards with 2,073. He also returned a missed extra point attempt 127 yards on Nov. 7 against Ottawa. It was the first such return in the history of the CFL.

Hot stove prep talk: Cape Hatteras will host a pair of Johnston County prep baseball squads this coming spring and make a visit to Johnston County as well. The Hurricanes, coached by former South Johnston coach Keith Durham, will host Smithfield-Selma for a scrimmage on Saturday, Feb. 27.

Cleveland will be at Cape Hatteras on March 4-5 for the inaugural Cape Hatteras Sandlot Tournament with Currituck and Ocracoke. Semifinal games are on Friday night and the championship game is at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

The Hurricanes come to Princeton to play in the annual Deacon Jones Invitational March 31 and April 1.