Sanders during his Central days
Sanders was among winningest coaches
By Michael Butler
One of the state's winningest basketball coaches has passed away. Roosevelt Sanders died Sunday. He was 84.
Sanders coached RR Moton in Tallassee to the 1969 Class 1A state championship. He went on to win two more titles at Central High School in Tuscaloosa. The basketball gym there now bears his name.
Sanders was 699-159 in his 35-year coaching career. At Central, the Falcons won the state in 1990 and '91. His teams had a stretch of 47 straight wins and 86 consecutive home victories.
The legendary coach led Moton to a 26-2 record and the blue trophy the year before schools in Tallassee were integrated. William "Cokey" Turner was a starter.
"(The) two games we lost during the season were because we were just playing around," Turner said. "In '69, we filled up three trophy cases from the tournaments we won."
Three games were played in Tuscaloosa for the title.
"In the first game, they had to get three referees to keep up with us."
Moton beat Suttle 72-54 for the championship. Turner and his teammates received championship sweaters.
Turner with his championship sweater back in 2009
Other team members included: Bernard Burney, Michael Williams, Bobby Hooks, Don Simpson, Rufus Roberts, Chilton Daniels, Calvin Crockett, Ulysses White, and Alber Robinson.
"We had no playbooks. We were run and gun. We played defense and shot the basketball," Turner added.
Turner attended Tallassee High School the next season with some of his teammates. That team coached by Paul Taylor finished third in the state in Class 3A.
Charles Blalock remembered the transition year.
"Coach Taylor was willing to give the job to Coach Sanders," Blalock said. "It wasn't kosher for him to get that job. But when they would get behind, Coach Taylor would go find Coach Sanders. Sanders would go in that doggone dressing room and these guys would come out a different team."
Sanders moved on to Bullock County in 1970 taking that team to the Final Four. He took the Druid job in Tuscaloosa in 1976. When it combined with Tuscaloosa High in '79, Sanders became the school's first coach. That squad went 29-1.
After his high school coaching days, Sanders finished his career on the college level with an eight-year stint at Miles College.
Born in Montgomery, Sanders attended Carver High School and Alabama State University. He was elected into the Alabama High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2001.
2009 Cokey Turner Interview on WTLS