Sharpe: Plan is best thing in 3 decades

Published 1:18 am Saturday, August 14, 2010

Former Andalusia football coach Don Sharpe delivered a keynote address that was part sermon, part walk down memory lane during the inaugural Andalusia High School Hall of Fame induction and banquet Friday night.

Sharpe, who was a two-time inductee in the inaugural class – recognized both for his individual accomplishments and as a member of the 1958 state championship team, told the crowd of more than 350 people that he was uniquely qualified to deliver insights into the Bulldog program.

and Don Sharpe, who also delivered the keynote address.

“I know this city and this program inside and out,” he said. “I’m in a really good position to judge and I’m here to tell the truth.”

A planned new $2.2 million academic and athletic facility will be “the greatest thing that has happened to football since I left here,” he said. “That was 30 years ago. The athletic facilities are the same as when I left here.

“This is a step forward,” he said. “This (facility) puts a face on Andalusia state-wide that nobody can ignore, and it will pay off,” he said.

For the Bulldogs to have a truly successful team, he said, they need community support. It wasn’t necessarily something Sharpe had when he arrived in 1973, he said, recalling that a Quarterback Club member called him aside to say “Don’t you come in here and mess our boys up.”

“Andalusia was totally a different place,” he said. “The success was already here.

“We were strong. We had begun not only to expect to win, but to deserve to win,” he said. “When you get out there, everybody will know you’ve paid the price. That is how a program is built.

“The thing most people see is what happens in the stadium on Friday nights,” he said. “It’s imperative of getting the community together to have a winning successful football program.”

Sharpe said hiring the right head coach is also critical to a team’s success.

“The most important person in a program is the head coach,” he said. “You want a coach that has all of the characteristics people would see in leaders.”

But he said the coach needs to be someone who’ll be on the field with his players, someone who will walk the halls and recruit people to the team.

He also talked about the importance of discipline.

“I would be equally unfair to everybody, and that’s fair,” he quipped. “It’s important to get them on the field for whatever reason.”

Luck also has a role in success, he said, recalling a game against Enterprise in which the Bulldogs won 8-7 by getting a fumble recovery and scoring a two-point conversion on an extra point play instead of the field goal he had called.

“To this day, I’m not sure if they fumbled it on purpose,” he said.

Sharpe was head coach and athletic director from 1973-1979 at AHS, and in his seven seasons at the high school, his teams went 89-10-3.

His teams won the state 3-A championship in 1977, and tied for the state 3-A championship in 1976 with Athens High.

From 1980-1986, Sharpe served as the head coach at Woodham High School in Pensacola. There, his teams won five district championships, two state runner-ups and two state championships.