Alexandria natives are renowned for the extraordinary amount of pride they show in their community.
Forty-eight years after his death, Sargent Prickett has given Alexandria even more to be proud of. He will be inducted into the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2014 on Saturday. His daughter Nila Nabors will accept the honor on his behalf.
“Just that somebody would still remember what he contributed 48 years after his death is just remarkable, I think,” Nabors said. “I think he would be very touched and very humbled and very honored to be receiving it. I know I am.”
Born Oct. 21, 1932, Prickett played a major role in the Valley Cubs’ return to football prominence in 1949 and 1950. He was a star at both quarterback and halfback and a devastating linebacker for coach Lou Scales. It’s easy to see why Prickett hasn’t been forgotten when considering how much pride Alexandria has in its history.
“Whatever sport it is, they come out and support it,” Nabors said. “They’re behind it 100 percent. It’s always been that way.”
After Alexandria finished 6-2-2 in his junior season, he was voted to the coaches’ All-Calhoun County team as a first-team selection for his play on both offense and defense. The Birmingham News/Birmingham Age-Herald named him third-team all-state. The team included all schools regardless of size and just 11 players made each of the three teams.
“He was just as good on defense as he was on offense,” former teammate Louie Feazell said. “He played both ways the whole time.”
Alexandria played its home games at Anniston’s Memorial Stadium in 1950, Prickett’s senior season. It was his most successful season as the Valley Cubs finished 8-0-0. It was the first Alexandria team to finish undefeated and untied.
The last game is what sent shockwaves throughout Calhoun County. The Valley Cubs upset the high-powered Anniston Bulldogs 20-12. Pricket rushed for all three touchdowns. It marked the first time Anniston had been defeated by another Calhoun County team since 1920. Anniston coach Billy Bancroft was so impressed that he gave Prickett the game ball to keep as a reminder of his spectacular play.
“Sargent called the plays’” said teammate Lowell Bryant. “The year we beat Anniston … we spread all across the field on the line of scrimmage. They didn’t know what to do, and they never did figure out what to do. I think we had three or four plays. If they lined up a certain way, we ran one play. If they lined up a different way, we’d run another play.”
“It was something for the whole community,” Feazell said. “(Prickett) was outstanding.”
Just as they did after his junior season, the awards piled up for Prickett after his senior season. He was the only unanimous pick for first-team all-county. He was named first-team all-state. Wigwam Wisemen of America named him to the National High School All-America football team, which was that era’s equivalent of today’s Parade All-America status.
Prickett’s athletic success never changed him.
“He was a humble guy. He worked hard,” Bryant said. “You didn’t hear much out of him after the game.”
Prickett played for the North squad for the annual AHSAA North-South all-star game in Tuscaloosa’s Denny Stadium in August 1951. It was not the last time he would suit up in a college stadium.
His success on the gridiron led to an opportunity to play at the next level. He accepted a football scholarship to Georgia Tech. However, he cut his days as a Yellow Jacket short. He stayed just two quarters before returning to Alexandria and joining the Marines.
He died Aug. 7, 1965 at age 32, but he remains as beloved by the community as the community itself.
“In my opinion,” Feazell said, “Sargent was about the best football player to ever come out of Calhoun County, in many years.”