Former Red Devils coach dead at 83

Former Central High football coach Frank Sadler, age 83, died this past Saturday, Oct. 12, in Chattanooga, Tenn., one of the many places he worked over the years.

Sadler coached at Central from 1968 until 1971. He had a record of 21-17-2 with the Red Devils. His best records came in 1969 and 1971 when the team posted 7-3 marks.

The Red Devils set a school record for points scored in a game with 75 against Eufaula on Nov. 6, 1970 under Sadler.

At the 2016 Camellia Bowl Hall of Fame luncheon for the induction of one of his former Central players – Woodrow Lowe, Sadler said he was proud to have coached such a successful player and person.

“There are only two coaches who can say they were the high school coach of a three-time All-American player for Coach Bear Bryant at Alabama. I am proud to be one of them. I hope had some positive influence on his life. And I hope I had a positive influence on all of my players at Central. I always remember all the wonderful players, parents and teachers from those days,” Sadler said at the time. 

Sadler was a graduate of Troy State in 1960 as a four sports star athlete. He was one of five athletes who interviewed with then Troy football coach Bill Clemson for a scholarship in 1956. There was a promise of a half scholarship for the winning candidate, but because the coach was so impressed by the youngster from Albany, Ga. he gave him a full ride. He was the only one of the five offered that day by Clemson. He took the $800 he received to attend the school and sent it all back to his family and began the work that made him a star athlete for the Trojans. During his freshman year at Troy, Sadler received letters in football, baseball, basketball and track and field for the Trojans.

The running back and defensive back still holds the Trojans’ record for kickoff returns for touchdowns with three. He also holds the record for multiple touchdown returns on kickoffs with two in a single game, a record he shares with only one other Trojan. And his 215 return yards against North Alabama in 1959 is also still a record for a program which has more than 100 years of history.

Known as “Little Beaver” by his teammates, Sadler played with an attitude that they remember. Mike Amos, who played along side of Sadler at Troy, said of him, “His motto was ‘I believe.’ He believed he was the best. A lot of people thought he was cocky, but that’s just the way he played. At 135 pounds you better be cocky or something. He would hit your block off. He was only 135 pounds, but he hit you with all 135 pounds.” After his storied Student-Athlete career at Troy, Sadler turned down a professional baseball career in order to get married and begin a 40-year career in coaching.

Sadler was inducted into the Troy University Sports Hall of Fame in 2017

The coach had a high school record, according to information used for his induction ceremony, of 110-65-5 while coaching at Charles Henderson in Troy, Central and Austin and Bob Jones in Decatur. He began his career as an assistant coach in Columbus, Ga. and later was the head coach at Kendrick for one season. He left Kendrick to become the offensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga under Joe Morrison. He later served as the offensive coordinator for the South Carolina Gamecocks also under Morrison. South Carolina, then an independent school playing D-1 football, ranked as high as No. 2 nationally while Sadler was there.

Visitation will be tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. CT at First Baptist Church in Troy. The funeral service will be held a t 10:30 a.m. CT at First Baptist. The arrangements are being handled by Dillard Funeral Home in Troy. Sadler is survived by his sons Frank T. Sadler Jr. of Troy and Shaun L. (Sandra) Sadler of Chattanooga, Tenn., grandsons Colton and Cody Sadler of Chattanooga, Tenn.