Bryan Hanks: Thoughts on Dunn’s transfer, APA 11-man football and more
Some meandering thoughts and observations on some Lenoir County sports issues on a muggy late-June day in our little portion of heaven …
WHAT DOES DUNN’S TRANSFER MEAN? In one of the most surprising moves I’ve witnessed here in the past few years, rising senior guard Damian Dunn and his family announced his transfer from Kinston High School to the defending 7A state champion in Georgia earlier this week.
While there was certainly some hand-wringing among faithful Vikings basketball fans — and Lenoir County hoops fans, in general — you have to put yourself in the shoes of the young man and his family. They felt continuing to play alongside hoopsters from Georgia that have won an AAU national championship gave him more of an opportunity to get a better shot to play in college than remaining at Kinston for his senior season.
While there is reason to question that judgment — Brandon Ingram, Reggie Bullock and others have had no difficulty being recruited by national-level programs while playing four years at Kinston — it’s a family decision and one that needs to be respected by area folks.
I know this much — there is still a ton of talent at Kinston High School, including rising junior point guard Isaac Parson (the best pure Vikings point guard since Josh Dawson and Dory Hines) and rising sophomore forward Dontrez Styles, who some are considering the next potential Brandon or Reggie. Other talented players who might have toiled in Dunn’s shadow — including rising senior Judah McBynum — are going to have a grand opportunity to shine.
And don’t forget Kinston has what I consider one of the best coaching staffs in North Carolina, headed by Perry Tyndall, the only person in NCHSAA basketball history to win state championships in his first three years of being a head coach. Coach Tyndall and his talented staff are going to have the Vikings ready to compete for a state title in the 2018-19 season.
One last thought: I’ve had the distinct honor of covering the Dunn family for a long time — from Damian’s father’s (Paul Dunn III) successful coaching stint at North Lenoir to Justin Dunn’s great play for the Hawks to Damian’s brothers Darnell and Darius (who each won state titles at KHS). The Dunn family loves Kinston and Lenoir County. This wasn’t a decision that was made lightly — a lot of prayer and thought went into it. Good luck to Damian!
PARROTT PLAYING 11-MAN FOOTBALL GAME: In another local sports story first reported by Neuse News sports director Junious Smith III, Arendell Parrott Academy will play its first 11-man football game since Nov. 3, 1989 when it lines up against Bear Grass Charter Academy at Hodges Field on Aug. 31.
While it’s the only time this season the Patriots will play football of the 11-man variety, I honestly think (and hope) it’s a harbinger of things to come for Parrott. In my opinion, 8-man football has served its purpose at APA – it was needed in the 1990s and 2000s when the Patriots could only get 20-25 students to suit up for its football team.
In 2018, however, the Patriots are having numbers of players coming out for the team that rival small NCHSAA 1A and even 2A squads. That is primarily due to the outstanding job head coach Matt Beaman and headmaster Bert Bright (himself a former head and assistant APA football coach) have done in making athletics a priority at the academy.
The beauty of what Bright has done is that he and the administration at APA have not wavered on academics. You might not realize it because we live here, but Parrott’s academic and overall reputation throughout the state of North Carolina – not just Eastern North Carolina – is sterling. In fact, when one factors in the complete package that is Arendell Parrott Academy (academic, athletic, performing arts, etc.), it’s a top-five private school in North Carolina and an institution that is mentioned in the same breath as Raleigh Ravenscroft and Charlotte Latin.
That’s part of the reason it’s logical and timely for the Patriots to return to the world of 11-man football. They’ve conquered the 8-man football world to the tune of playing for state titles the previous four seasons, winning two of them. While 8-man football is still a solid place for small private schools like Bethel Christian Academy to participate, it may be time for APA to take the step back to 11-man.
I’ll be very, very excited to see how the Patriots stack up against a second-year NCHSAA program like Bear Grass Charter School on Aug. 31. That should be a good test for APA – and a possible nod to its football future.
BLAZERS FOR NORTH LENOIR FOOTBALL PLAYERS: New North Lenoir head football coach Jim Collins is asking for the community’s help in making his Hawks look good — off the field.
If you’d like to donate a blue blazer to Collins and the team for players to wear on game days, call the coach at 989-305-2078 or direct message him at his Twitter account (@Coachjc1962). Collins is also accepting monetary donations to help the team.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank all of you who have subscribed to Neuse News, stopped me on the street, emailed me or messaged me with congratulations on this new venture. I know I am speaking for B.J. Murphy and everyone here when I tell you we have been blown away by your kind words, Facebook “likes”, subscriptions and everything else you have done to help get the word out about Neuse News.
Bryan Hanks is the editor of the Neuse News; his weekly column appears here every Thursday.