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Eight days later, they won their first game, 6-0, he said. They played for the state title in AISA, a private schools league, the second year. Two more high school stops led him back to Auburn.

“A lot of things happen and sometimes you don’t know why,” Blakeney said. “I think I was being manipulated a little bit by forces that knew what I needed to do. It’s turned out to be right 40 years later, at least from the standpoint of being happy, having a little success and being around some great folks along the way.”