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2013 Inductees
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Sandahl
Sabres '86 Football


 


INDUCTEE 2013 - ATHLETE- BUILDER - Al Sandahl


 

 

Football player
Junior and College Levels
Coach:
     Football -  High School, US College, NFL
     Basketball and Track - High School
From 1954-2011

Al Sandahl was born and raised in Wetaskiwin.    In high school he played both football, basketball and participated in track but football was what he pursued. After a successful football career playing at the Junior and College levels, Al became involved in coaching.  He spent thirty-four years coaching football, basketball and track at high schools and colleges in the USA as well as spending one year coaching in the NFL.  Al successfully coached several individuals in high school and college who received scholarships or NFL/CFL contracts.  Many of the teams where Al was a member of the coaching staff were conference champions, involved in state championships,  or "Bowl" champions.

Al’s first football experience was playing for the Wetaskiwin High School Sabres coached by Norm Brown and Pete Durnovo.  Al played end on the undefeated 1954 team and tackle on the 1955 and 1956 Sabre teams that won three league championships and played twenty-three games without a loss.    The 1956 team was so dominant that in six league games, the first play-off game and an exhibition game no points were scored against them.  In 2009 the 1956 team was inducted into the Wetaskiwin and County Sports Hall of Fame.

Member of Sabres Dynasty of 1950's

Al and two of his 1956 team-mates, Don Duncalfe and Daryl Maki, were invited to the Edmonton Eskimo Rookie Tryout Camp in their grade twelve year confirming their exceptional ability and the high quality of play demonstrated by the Sabres dynasty of the 1950’s.  After the Rookie Camp Eskimo head coach “Pop” Ivy was so impressed with Al and Don that he invited them to attend the main training camp later in the summer.

In 1957, after graduating from high school, Al played Junior Football with the Edmonton Huskies.  The 1957 Huskies were Alberta Junior Football League Champions and Alberta-BC Champions but lost in the Western Canadian finals.  After a successful season playing tight end for the Huskies, “Pop” Ivy recommended him to the Head Coach at the University of Montana for a football scholarship, which he subsequently accepted.

In 1959, after one year in Montana, Al participated in a Calgary Stampeder Tryout Camp where he impressed the coaches.  They recommended a transfer to Louisiana College for which he received a full scholarship.  He played tight end for the Wildcats for the rest of his collegiate career.    In 1963, Al graduated from Louisiana College with a Bachelor of Science Degree with majors in Physical Education and Social Studies.

Started Coaching as Member of Montreal Alouettes

Playing professional football was still Al’s goal and in 1963, Al signed with the Edmonton Eskimos and was in the final cut after the preseason.  In 1964, Al was signed by the Calgary Stampeders and again in the final cut after the preseason.  He then became the property of the Montreal Alouettes and was placed on their practice roster.  During his year in Montreal (1964-65), Al and his wife accepted teaching positions and Al made his first foray into the  coaching arena by coaching football and basketball at Westhill High School in Montreal.  The Westhill basketball team, with Al as head coach, made it to the final game of the  City Championship.

In 1965, Al and his wife moved back to Louisiana and for the next seven years until 1972,  Al was either an assistant or Head Football Coach at the high school level.  In 1965 his Jonesboro-Hodge high school team was in the quarter finals of the class 4A state playoffs and in 1966, his Mansfield high school team was in the semi-finals of the class 3A state playoffs.   Al also coached basketball and track and in 1967 the Mansfield High School track team, with Al as head coach, won the State  Championship.  In 1969, he received his Master of Arts Degree in History from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas.

13 Years with Elite College Teams

From 1973 to 1986 Al was involved with the following State University teams as either assistant coach or offensive co-ordinator: Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, Washington State, UCLA, Colorado State, Iowa State, Syracuse and Kansas State.  In those two positions, Al coached wide receivers, running backs and quarterbacks.  Al’s job with the quarterbacks was preparing the plays that were run, getting the quarterback ready and calling offensive plays, a huge responsibility. Al’s teams were very successful; in 1974 the Mississippi Bulldogs were the Sun Bowl Champions, in 1976 the Oklahoma Cowboys were Big 8, co-conference Champions and won the Tangerine Bowl and in 1984 his Syracuse Orange defeated Nebraska, the number one ranked team in the nation.   Many of Al’s protégés were drafted by the NFL. One example was quarterback Jack Thompson who Al coached in 1978 at Washington State University.  Jack was a Sporting News 1st Team All American and was chosen third by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1st  round of the NFL draft.

Hired by Buffalo Bills - Recruited by Syracuse
University to be Offensive Coordinator

The most prestigious coaching position of Al’s career was when Al was hired in 1983 as the Assistant Offensive Line/TE’s coach for the Buffalo Bills of the NFL.  As Assistant Offensive Line Coach, during the games he was  in the press box connected to the head coach who called the plays.  Al provided the head coach with the secondary coverages by down and distance as well as other pertinent information.  A highlight for Al that season was coaching the Senior Bowl in Mobile Alabama as a member of the Buffalo Bills staff.  Players in this game were College Senior NFL prospects. While he was in Buffalo, Al was recruited and hired by Syracuse University to be Offensive Co-ordinator for their football team in 1984.

In 1986, Al moved to Memphis, Tennessee and became involved in the real estate business.  He tutored  local high school football teams by working with quarterbacks and wide receivers in his spare time.   Al then moved to Dallas and from 2002 to 2011, once again became involved with coaching high school football, basketball and track. Many of his teams were involved in state high school play-offs.  After hip and knee replacements in 2011, Al decided to take a year off from coaching and teaching.

In order for Al to be hired to coach at such elite levels, he had to have the necessary knowledge and expertise, experience and a proven reputation in the sport as well as an ability to coach.  Al certainly has all of these attributes.  Over the years, hundreds of athletes have been positively influenced by Al’s coaching.  We applaud his impressive achievements and successes along with his athletic and coaching abilities and are pleased to induct Al Sandahl into the Wetaskiwin and County Sports Hall of Fame.
 


Information about an inductee is collected from published sources, sports archives, scrapbooks, anecdotal information from family, friends and fans, and the athlete. 

However, sometimes the best stories and personal insights are gleaned at the induction dinner from the introductory comments or acceptance speech of the inductee or their representative. 

Where possible we have included this type of information for your enjoyment.

Read the opening comments made by Dale Cory when introducing Al Sandahl.


 

 






 

 

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