Former county standouts earn rings for teams’ top play

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College Football

By The Staff

Two former Lancaster County prep football standouts earned rings as their respective teams posted outstanding seasons in college football this fall.

Former Lancaster High School football star Darius Robinson, a defensive captain on the Johnson C. Smith University football team in Charlotte, earned a ring as the Golden Bulls won the 13th annual Pioneer Bowl in Columbus, Ga., on Dec. 3.

Smith topped Miles College of Fairfield, Ala., 35-33 in the Pioneer Bowl.

Kody Faulkenberry, a standout at Andrew Jackson High School, will receive a ring as a member of the Mars Hill College football team which won the South Atlantic Conference title with an 8-3 record, which included a 6-1 mark in SAC play.

Robinson, a 6-3, 250-pounder, racked up 38 tackles this season for the Golden Bulls. He had 3.5 tackles for loss for 13 yards and 1.5 sacks for six yards. Robinson posted three quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery at JCSU.

Smith was third in the CIAA with a 4-3 mark, its first winning conference record in five seasons. The Golden Bulls’ 6-5 record marked the first non-losing season at Smith since 2006.

The Golden Bulls’ participation in the Pioneer Bowl was its second overall and first bowl victory.

The Pioneer Bowl is the only NCAA-sanctioned bowl game involving HBCU athletic conferences and one of only three sanctioned bowl games in Division II. Started in 1997, the game features teams from the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

Robinson, in his first season, had 18 tackles with a .5 tackles for loss for a yard loss and two quarterback hurries. In his prep career at LHS, he was the Bruins’ Defensive MVP and played in the annual North-South All-Star game.

u Robinson’s brother is Robert Fletcher, an ace junior defensive back and team captain at Wingate University.

Fletcher, in his junior campaign for the 5-6 Bulldogs, had 53 total tackles, including 28 solos this season. He had 5.5 tackles for loss for 28 yards and three sacks for 20 yards.

Fletcher, a NCAA Div. II preseason All-American, had four broken-up passes and four passes defended with a forced fumble for Wingate, which went 4-3 in SAC play.

A year ago, Fletcher led the Bulldogs in interceptions with three. He was third on the defense with a total of 87 tackles, including 43 solo tackles. An All-SAC performer, Fletcher posted four tackles for loss and added seven passes defended, four pass break-ups and one fumble recovery.

The Bulldogs, 9-3, won the SAC championship and advanced to the second round of the 2010 NCAA Div. II playoffs.

In 2009, Fletcher was second in the SAC with 83 tackles.

He had three defensive touchdowns (two fumble recoveries, one interception) as the Bulldogs led the SAC in turnover margin (plus-15) in 2009. Fletcher had two interceptions, four pass break-ups, five fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.

“You really can’t say enough about those two players,” said Lancaster High School football coach Bennie McMurray said. “They’re outstanding football players and young men. To be elected a team captain as an underclassmen in both cases says it all about them. They were outstanding for us and have continued their tremendous play and leadership.”

u Faulkenberry, a 2010 graduate of AJ where he was a Volunteers’ football standout at linebacker, is a redshirt sophomore linebacker on the Lions team.

Mars Hill, 8-3, 6-1 in the South Atlantic Conference, fell to North Greenville in the second round of the 2011 NCAA Division II football playoffs.

A highlight of the Lions’ season was a 42-35 win over Wingate after trailing 28-14 at the half.

The Lions had the most wins since 1985, won the SAC title and earned a playoff berth.

“Being a member of the Mars Hill team was a good experience,” Faulkenberry said. “I had never been on a championship football team. I feel real good about it.

“That comeback win over Wingate was a key win in our season and probably the biggest for us,” he said.

Faulkenberry returns to Mars Hill on Jan. 16 and the Lions begin weights and conditioning the next day.

 Faulkenberry, in his senior season at AJ in 2009, was the Volunteers’ second-leading tackler with 60 hits, 11 assists, six tackles for loss, a batted down pass and two fumble recoveries.