Broken back didn’t stop Hall inductee Buddy Betts

MILFORD – Dean “Buddy” Betts was so determined to play football for the Milford Buccaneers that even a broken vertebra in his back couldn’t stop him

Betts’ dream of playing high school football almost ended during a junior high baseball game when he sustained the back injury while sliding into home.

Following several long months of rehabilitation, including wearing a back brace for 15 months, Betts was cleared to play football.

“There were times during those months that I wasn’t sure if I would every play sports again,” said Betts. “The greatest news in my young life came when I was sitting in the doctor’s office in Philadelphia with my father and hearing the doctor say that I was cleared to play football.”

Making the most of his second chance, Betts went on to play three years for the varsity program, which he will be honored for when he is inducted into The 12th Man Gridiron Club sponsored Milford High School Football Hall of Fame Friday during halftime ceremonies of the Buccaneers season opening game against Red Lion Christian.

“I was absolutely thrilled when I was informed about my induction into the Milford Football Hall of Fame,” said Betts, who was a senior team captain in 1964 and was voted onto the All-State third team. “I was proud to be a part of a team that went out on the field and did everything we could to make the team good.”

Betts did do everything he could when considering he never left the playing field during a game.

The three-time varsity letter winner was an offensive center, defensive linebacker, was on the kickoff team as well as both the kickoff and punt receiving teams.

“I was moved by the coaching staff from a running back to the center position at the start of my sophomore year and, from that point on, I never left the field,” said Betts, who will be joining his brother, Keith, in the Milford Football Hall of Fame. “I thought it was marvelous because playing the whole game is what I wanted to do.

‘We had a fantastic team with a lot of great athletes and it was great just being out on the field and playing the game with them.”

Betts continued his education at several institutions including College of the Albemarle (Elizabeth City, N.C.), East Carolina University, University of Missouri and Oregon State University.

After graduating from East Carolina in 1975, Betts was hired as the Director of Physical education for the Handicapped at St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, N.C.

During his tenure at the four-year liberal arts school, Betts was the head coach of the men’s soccer team and assistant coach of the baseball team.

Betts was named the Dixie Intercollegiate Athletic Association Soccer Coach of the Year and recruited several southern Delaware athletes including his brother, Keith, as well as Milford baseball player, Doug Pierson.

After returning to Delaware, Betts continued coaching as an assistant football coach for the Milford High junior varsity team and was the Milford Middle School head football coach from 1988-90.

“I enjoyed coaching,” Betts said. “We had fun and I enjoyed coaching the kids.”

Betts, who is currently working for the Delaware Department of Education as the Education Associate for the Driver Education Department, is married to his wife, Mary, is looking forward to his induction into the Milford Football Hall of Fame.

Bill Mitchell can be reached at

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