Photo credit Al.com
Our state is known for a great tradition of high school football. In order to make that happen, we have had great players, great coaches, outstanding administrators and strong leadership from the high school athletic association. Lefty Anderson has been all of that to the state of Alabama. But it started with coaching football. For in the 1950’s and 1960’s few coaches could hold a candle to Lefty Anderson.
A native of Jackson, Coach Anderson graduated from Livingston State and began his coaching career at Frisco City High School in 1955. In those days there were only 2 classifications in the state of Alabama and Frisco City was one of the state’s smallest schools. From 1955-1962 in an era where there were no playoffs, Frisco City averaged 8 wins per season. There schedule always included bigger schools like Monroeville, T.R. Miller, Bay Minette, Jackson, Greenville and Evergreen. From 1959-1962 Frisco City was consistently ranked in the state’s top 10 teams in Class 1A even though they were constantly playing bigger teams.
In 1963 the biggest school in the state took notice. Coach Anderson took the job at Murphy High School, enrollment of 3200 in just 3 grades and the biggest high school in the south. The Panthers had won but one game the two previous seasons.. But the turn around was immediate. Murphy won 9 games and lost 1 in Coach Anderson’s first season. Murphy beat #1 ranked Vigor in front of 28, 000 fans and 3 weeks later defeated #1 ranked Sidney Lanier at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery. The ’63 Panthers gave up only 42 points in 10 games. And ended up ranked #3 in the state. To get a schedule Murphy played teams all across the state of Alabama as well as Mississippi and Florida. Two years later Murphy was 9-1 again giving up only 50 points and ranked #4. In 1969 Lefty Anderson moved on to administration and became principal of Murphy High School during the integration days of 1970. Murphy needed a strong leader and Coach Anderson was the man for the job.
After 9 years as principal, Coach Anderson became the athletic director of Mobile County Schools and continued in that position until his retirement in 1991. Lefty Anderson served the AHSAA Central Board of Control for 13 years, 2 years as President. He was elected to the very first class of the Alabama High School Athletic Hall of Fame. He was instrumental in organizing the Alabama Mississippi All Star game in 1988 and helped in the management of the game for many years in Mobile. The games’s Most Valuable Player Award is named in his honor. One of his former coaches Ed Lathan said, “Respect is the one word that can best define Coach Anderson…respect from his players, his peers and his community. “ As with most great coaches, his coaching tree of former players and assistants is impressive. Not only were they successful head coaches, some have been Hall of Fame inductees themselves-W.C. Majors, Ed Lathan, Terry Curtis, Robert Shaw, Ben Glover, Larry Henderson, Curt Douglas, Vance McCrory, George Holcome and Lavaughn Hanks. We owe a debt of gratitude to Coach Lefty Anderson for his contributions to football, football players and football coaches in our state. He is a true icon in Alabama High School football. Therefore today the Alabama football Coaches Association is proud to bestow its Lifetime Achievement Award on Coach Lefty Anderson.