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NC stays in-house with hire

Faulkenberry tabbed as Knights’ new head baseball coach

Posted: June 29, 2017 9:30 a.m.
Updated: June 30, 2017 1:00 a.m.
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BRANDON FAULKENBERRY ... new NC baseball coach

Be true to your school.

Last winter, North Central High School hired one of its own, Tyronne Drakeford, as the school’s head football coach and athletic director. Tuesday night, NCHS graduate and principal David Branham submitted the name of NC alum Brandon Faulkenberry to the Kershaw County School District Board of Trustees to become the Knights’ head baseball coach. Minutes later, the former three-sport standout at the school was named to take over the baseball program.

The job came open following the departure of Robbie Cash, who was not retained by the school. In his eight years in the dugout in Boonetown, Cash became the winningest head baseball coach in school history.

For the past seven years, Faulkenberry served as an assistant coach under Cash after having played for Cash’s first Knights’ squad in 2010 as a pitcher/catcher/infielder. In 2014 and 2015, Faulkenberry was the head coach of the Kershaw County Junior American Legion baseball team, guiding the 17ers into the state tournament in his first season while his squad advanced into the second round of the state playoffs in 2015.

In addition to his time as assistant baseball coach, Faulkbenberry is an assistant football coach with the Knights as well as serving as head coach for the school’s junior varsity boys’ basketball team for the past two years. Faulkenberry was a standout quarterback and guard for the Knights on the football field and basketball hardwood, respectively.

For Faulkenberry, a 2010 NCHS graduate, taking over the reins as the school’s head baseball coach is “a dream come true.” He later thanked his family as well as Cash and former NC head football coach and athletic director Louis Clyburn for having faith in his abilities and helping him get to this point in his career.

“I would like to thank God for this blessing He has given me,” Faulkenberry said. “I would like to thank my parents, my wife and family for supporting me and Coach Clyburn and Coach Cash for seeing something in me to bring me back (to NC) to help out. If it wasn’t for them, I would not have had this opportunity.

“I would like to thank Mr. (David) Branham and Coach Drakeford for believing in me to take this next step as a head coach.”

Already popular with the players he coaches in all three sports, Faulkenberry has also made inroads with members of the coaching community both in and outside of Kershaw County. One coach whom he impressed during his stint with the Junior Legion program was Camden head baseball coach Denny Beckley. The two have remained friends. “Coach Beckley has always been there to support me with words of encouragement throughout the process,” he said.

Upon graduation from North Central, Faulkenberry enrolled at USC-Lancaster and walked on to the Lancers’ baseball team. By the end of his freshman season, he was the team’s starting catcher. As a sophomore, after USC-Lancaster brought in two new catchers, Faulkenberry was on the outside looking in. Attempting to find a role for himself, he approached his head coach about getting a shot to pitch. By season’s end, he became the team’s closer.

While at USC-Lancaster, Faulkenberry began coaching football and baseball at North Central.“After practice got over at Lancaster at three o’clock,” he said, “I would drive over to North Central and be a volunteer coach every day.”

After two years at USC-Lancaster and with his associate’s degree, Faulkenberry enrolled at Southern Wesleyan University only to have a sprained UCL injury to his right pitching arm end his career after having won the spot as the team’s closer. 

When at SWU, he would return home to help coach the Knights’ football team on Friday nights.

Following his elbow injury, Faulkenberry returned home to complete his college studies online. Once Clyburn and Cash learned that Faulkenberry was back in town, they both reached out to him to bring him into their respective programs. Now a full-time coach, Faulkenberry also worked for his father’s tree service company. When a full-time teaching job opened at the school, he was hired and became a member of the school’s faculty.

Faulkenberry said it took a little time before he got used to his being the head baseball coach at his alma mater.

“It really started sinking in this (Wednesday) morning,” he said. “I said to myself, ‘This is what I’ve always wanted.’ As word started spreading around town, a lot of players who heard about it started texting me. They’re super-excited about it, as I am.

“It’s a huge deal for me because I love this community. I know there are a lot of people who are up and coming and once we get this rec program turned around, I think we’re going to be successful in the future.”

The Knights are coming off a third-place finish in Region 4-AA and earned a trip to the state tournament and won a game in the postseason. Graduation took a solid senior class from the program including USC-Sumter signee Chase Stephens. A smaller rising senior class, led by returning All-Region 4-AA performer Cam Holley, will serve as leaders for the 2018 Knights. Several of the players coming back, however, have limited varsity experience with some having just one season with the program.

“We’re going to get back to the fundamentals, starting with our jayvee team,” Faulkenberry said of his approach to running the program. “We’re going to get back to throwing programs and do all those sorts of things.

“The big challenge is getting this small senior class that we’re about to have and getting them in game situations and see how they’re going to do and how they will approach the game from a mental aspect.”

Having been in the program and been around the players will be a big advantage for Faulkenberry, given his summer hiring. He said things will get rolling as soon as he is allowed to begin working with his players per South Carolina High School League rules.

“That’s going to help out a whole lot,” he said. “I know what their talents are and what they’re capable of. It also benefits them from having me here because they know how I’m going to react to certain situations. They know what they’re in for in terms of how we’re going to work and things like that. We’re going to hit the ground running.”

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