Walker County Sports HOF adds 14 inductees

Fifth class inducted on Saturday

William Banks’ football career may have ended more than 60 years ago, but his exploits on the field were never forgotten. Banks was among the 14 athletes inducted into the Walker County Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday at the New Prospect Baptist Church’s Christian Life Center. “I feel honored to be inducted with Walker County’s best athletes,” said Banks, who starred for Oakman High School before signing with Auburn in 1956. On the other end of the spectrum, Tim Simon, who graduated from Cordova in 2009, made the Hall of Fame cut in his first year of eligibility. Simon, who led the Blue Devils to the state championship in 2007, is still fourth in the state in career rushing yards with 8,536, just ahead of former Parrish star Tony Dixon, who is also a member of the Walker County Sports Hall of Fame. Following a stellar career — that included the 2008 Class 3A Back of the Year Award — Simon signed with Ole Miss. Al Blanton spoke at the ceremony for the induction of his grandfather — also named Al Blanton.

“My grandfather seemed to excel in everything he did — sports, career, family. It seemed like he had success in every area,” the younger Blanton said. The elder Blanton was a standout football and baseball player at Walker County High School in the 1920s. He later played both sports at Birmingham-Southern. After a stint as the Vikings’ football and basketball coach, he then changed careers, serving as an FBI special agent and as a circuit judge. Inductee Larry Hinds, a three-sport star athlete at Carbon Hill in the late 1950s, who also had a successful coaching career, was impressed with the ceremony. “This is beyond anything I could’ve imagined,” Hinds said. Saturday’s other inductees were Mickey Beaty, Scott Freeman, Norman Holt, Charles Kitchens, Tina Langley, Shawn Medlock, Dwight Norris, Gene Raburn, Wayne Smith and Urwayne Westbrook.