By Kevin Eickman
Along with the first home football game of the season this Friday, the 12th Man Gridiron Club will be conducting their annual induction ceremony. MilfordLIVE.com has had the privilege of talking with all four men and this week’s article will focus on Meredith Dean “Buddy” Betts, a 1965 graduate of Milford High School.
Forced to miss his freshman year due to a back injury, Betts never left the field in the three years he was a starter for the Buccaneers. According to Betts the greatest news of his young life was when he was sitting in the doctor’s office and heard the words “You are cleared to play football.” Once he hit the field, Betts excelled as a center on offense and a linebacker/defensive end on defense. A captain on the 1964 team, Betts was also selected third team All-State that season.
Following high school Betts attended East Carolina University from 1972-1975, walking on and playing junior varsity football for three seasons as a defensive end. While attending East Carolina, Betts earned both a Bachelors degree, as well as a Masters degree in education. Betts would continue his education, earning his doctorate from the University of Missouri. Betts also did some post doctorate work at Oregon State University.
Upon his graduation from East Carolina University, Betts was appointed the Director of Physical Education for the Handicapped at St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Yekaterinburg, NC. While at St. Andrews, Betts was the head coach of the men’s soccer team and an assistant or the baseball team. In his second season coaching soccer, Betts was selected the Dixie Intercollegiate Association Coach of the Year. Betts has also helped guide many Delaware athletes achieve athletic success to the point of earning athletic scholarships to college. Among some of the notable players Betts assisted were Craig Eliasson, Maxwell Morris, John Doney, Doug Pierson and Keith Betts.
Betts also spent time as an assistant football coach at Milford High School for the junior varsity squad, as well as the head coach for the middle school from 1988-1990. He is exciting to have been selected to the Hall of Fame and “both honored and humbled to be joining such an elite group of HOF inductee’s,” Beets stated that the opportunity “is a dream come true for me as a Milfordian and a Buccaneer. It is also a source of pride to join my brother, Keith, a current HOF.”
For Betts, family always played an important role in shaping his athletic and professional career. “My greatest fans were my parents, Walter and Jeanette,” said Betts. “Nevertheless, it was my father who preached to all of his children, ‘Whatever you do in life, be the best.’ I measure all five of my siblings as successful and productive adults. When it comes to football, I must give credit to Coach Larry Gocella. His decision to move me from the backfield to offensive center on the varsity in the tenth grade was pivotal.”
The lessons that Betts learned growing up in Milford continue to help him to this day. “I have been the State Supervisor for Driver Education for 25 years and I love my colleagues at the Department of Education and all of the teachers I have been blessed to supervise,” said Betts. “ Many are former athletes from high school or college, many are current or past coaches. I never refer to them as my staff. It is always ‘My TEAM’; Together Everyone Achieves More. Just like it was at Milford High School. And yes, I am still proud.”
Milford will open the season this Friday as they host Red Lion Christian Academy. Kick-off is set for 7:30pm.