Early days remain with Alex Sandel

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 18, 1999

Alex Sandel was part of several significant eras in Natchez.

Sandel played on the final football team at Natchez High in 1969 before South Natchez and North Natchez came along.

He also played on the first Natchez football team coached by Ed Reed, one of the most successful coaches in the state.

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Sandel transferred from Natchez High to the newly-formed Adams County Christian School in the fall of 1970.

&uot;We had a class of 16,&uot; said Sandel, who played on the first AC&160;baseball team.

Sandel played fullback, cornerback and linebacker for Natchez High, which had experienced dismal seasons before Reed brought the Notre Dame Box to Natchez in 1969.

&uot;It was an adjustment for the tailbacks who had to catch the ball and transfer it,&uot; Sandel said. &uot;There were some maneuvers you had to learn, but the blocking schemes were about the same, but the blocking was so much more important.

&uot;You really had to be good at faking the run.&uot;

The Rebels would go 5-5 in Sandel’s senior year and Reed would earn Coach of the Year honors in the state.

&uot;We were excited when Coach Reed came in because we had heard a lot about him,&uot; Sandel said. &uot;He inspired all of us. He was completely different than any coach I had seen before. He was a friend, but he was the boss on the field.&uot;

Sandel credits Reed, Morgantown coaches Bob Ulmer and Sam Reynolds and Co-Lin coaches Malcolm Nesmith and C.B. Hawkins with being positive influences in his life.

Reed held spring training prior to Sandel’s senior season, a spring training Sandel will never forget.

&uot;We had football camp in McComb and the first night Hurricane Camille came through,&uot; Sandel said. &uot;That was quite an experience for the whole team. And it kind of introduced us to Coach Reed’s philosophies.&uot;

Sandel received the Golden Helmet Award as most valuable player his senior year, rushing for 666 yards, and leading the team in touchdowns.

&uot;I&160;was always running behind Max Burns,&uot; Sandel said.

Sandel said Natchez’s game at Margaret Martin against No. 1 Yazoo City is one he will never forget.

&uot;It was the third quarter and the lights went out with us leading by two touchdowns,&uot; he said. &uot;They were out for about 15-to-30 minutes. When they came back on, they tore us up. We cooled down and couldn’t get going again.&uot;

Sandel attended Co-Lin where he played fullback, weak linebacker and on special teams.

Sandel and Natchezian Claude Porter will be inducted into the Co-Lin Hall of Fame Oct. 23.

&uot;I was just proud to be a part of Co-Lin,&uot; Sandel said.

As a sophomore he played primarily fullback, earning all-State honors and competing in the state all-star game. Co-Lin finished 7-1-2 in Sandel’s freshman season and 7-3 the following year.

Sandel didn’t just star as a football player. He also played baseball and did the pole vault at Co-Lin.

&uot;But I was primarily there for football,&uot; he said.

Sandel went to work at Calumet Chemical Corporation when he got out of Co-Lin before starting work at Johns-Manville in 1974. He will receive the Quarter Century Award at Manville later this month.

Sandel and his wife Pam have three children, Rudy, 22, Matthew, 19, and Sarah,16.