Connie Frederick, 61; Was Auburn Football Star

342 views
Skip to first unread message

Bill Schenley

unread,
Apr 15, 2009, 3:40:30 PM4/15/09
to
Former Auburn Big-Play Specialist Frederick Dies

The Montgomery Advertiser ~
By Brad Zimanek

Montgomery sports star and former Auburn football
player Connie Frederick, who was responsible for one
of the more unique plays in school history with an
84-yard fake punt and run against Alabama in 1969,
died unexpectedly Sunday in Georgia at 61.

Frederick, who was also a wingback for the Tigers from
1967-69, was the school's Cliff Hare Award winner in
1970, the highest honor a male student-athlete can receive
at Auburn. It is given annually to the male student-athlete
who, in addition to athletic and scholastic achievements,
possesses a high degree of leadership ability, integrity and
courage.

Frederick definitely showed courage with his decision to
fake a punt from his own goal line in the waning moments
against the Crimson Tide. Leading 42-20, Auburn faced
a fourth-and-six from its own 16-yard line.

Montgomery native Buddy McClinton, a teammate of
Frederick's in junior high school and at Auburn,
remembers the play well. McClinton played defensive
back, but he also was the holder on extra points and field
goals, which meant he had to stick close to head coach
Shug Jordan and offensive line coach Gene Lorendo.

"Connie would come over and say, 'They are not rushing
me, they just peel back and run away every time. I'm
telling you, I can run forever,'" McClinton recalled. "He
just kept on 'em. Finally, Coach Lorendo gave him a nod,
and Shug was a conservative coach.

"And it was the funniest thing when we saw it on film later,
because the whole Alabama team that was running back
to create a wedge looked like they were blocking for him,
as he went the whole way untouched."

The play still is tied for the fifth longest run from
scrimmage in school history. Auburn went on to win
49-26.

"It was something else," said Montgomery's Vince
Bowlin, a teammate of Frederick's who also went into
business with Frederick and considers Frederick his
best friend the last 40 years. "It was our senior year and
we were beating them pretty good, and he's thinking
what can he do and he comes up with the fake punt and
the coaches didn't want him to do it.

"And he takes off and runs 84 yards for a touchdown in
front of us, and we're thinking what's going to happen to
him when he gets to the sidelines. ... Everybody in the
state of Alabama remembers him for that play."

Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Pat Sullivan, now
the head football coach at Samford, missed the play. He
was on the sideline speaking to some family members who
happened to be Alabama fans and was relishing the
moment.

"I never got to see it," Sullivan said. "All I did was hear
a roar and then saw Connie off in the end zone. The bigger
play for me came before halftime when we got the ball
back and he made a catch down on a wheel route down to
the three-yard line and we ended up scoring to take the
lead, and that gave us all the momentum going into the half.

"He made so many big plays and great catches for us.
He was a senior leader of that group of receivers. The
coaches called him 'Old Reliable.'"

Frederick recounted the fake punt in an article written by
Jason Peevy in Auburn Football Illustrated on the day of
the Nov. 30, 1991, game between Auburn and Alabama
at Legion Field in Birmingham.

"Finally, Coach Jordan grabbed my jersey and told me,
flat-out, no," Frederick said. "I was watching, and Alabama
wasn't even looking back. I told them if Alabama was going
to (set up for a) return, I could run it. I still kept asking
Coach Lorendo every time I went in to punt. He kept
saying no.

"It had been so long since we'd been ahead of Alabama.
The coaches were a little conservative. They didn't want
to do anything to jeopardize the lead. With 53 seconds to
play, I told Coach Lorendo to let me try it, that I could get
a first down. He looked at me kind of funny. He said,
'If you do that, don't tell anyone that I knew about it.'

"No one knew what was going on. All those Alabama
players were looking in the air for the ball. Coach Lorendo
told me later that Coach Jordan was screaming 'Where's
the ball? Where's the ball?' Coach Lorendo told him, 'Look,
it's coming right by you!'

"The only person that came close to tackling me was
(teammate) Terry Beasley. When he realized what was
going on, he came down and tried to block for me. He
almost ran me over. It was like instant fame, everybody
thought it was the greatest thing. But Alabama was totally
faked out. It was like an accident, it happened so fast. It
was one of those things that only happens once every
100 years. It was so easy, I didn't feel like I'd earned it."

The victory was Auburn's first win against Alabama since
1963.

"For us seniors, that play was icing on the cake," said
Mike Kolen, who was a linebacker on the Auburn team
from 1967-69 and also a neighbor of Frederick's for 10
years. "He always had a lot of energy. He was active.
He golfed. He always mowed his own yard. This is just
a shock to believe he's not with us. I know it's hard on
the family.

"But he was a Christian and I know there is comfort in
knowing where he is."

The play is obviously not the only thing for which
Frederick is remembered.

Bowlin called him Mr. Clutch "because he could do
anything with a ball."

McClinton said he was "probably the finest athlete
I've played with in any sport."

Frederick was a three-sport star in baseball, basketball
and football at Lee High School. He was a part of Lee's
1966 undefeated baseball team. McClinton said he
would have excelled in baseball at Auburn, but playing
another sport was frowned upon in those days.

Frederick was the team's starting punter in 1968 and
1969, and holds the school record for the most punts
in a game with 15 against Clemson on Oct. 12, 1968.

Frederick's character also stood out. During his senior
season, Frederick's father, longtime Montgomery Parks
and Recreation director Freddy Frederick, died before
Auburn's game against Georgia Tech that year in Atlanta.

"It was a huge rivalry at that time," McClinton said.
"We knew it would be a close game, and without him as
a wide receiver and punter, we knew we probably
wouldn't win the game if he didn't play.

"He ended up playing because he said dad would have
wanted him to play. We all had great admiration for him.
It was just an unbelievable thing for him to do."

Not only did Frederick play, he also caught a touchdown
pass in the Tigers' 17-14 win over the Yellow Jackets and
was awarded the game ball by Jordan.

"His father passed away, and he had a great game and we
were able to win it at the end," Sullivan said. "He was
a great player and person. He was always dependable.
But everybody is going to remember him for that punt
return more than anything."

Services for Frederick are at 3:30 p.m. today at Frazer
Memorial United Methodist Church with the Rev. John
Schmidt officiating. Interment will follow in Greenwood
Cemetery.

Frederick is survived by his wife, Sandy Frederick; three
daughters, Maris Frederick, Meredith F. Wit (Judd) and
Blair F. Hardy (Wes); grandsons Carter and Cooper Wit
and Townes and Conrad Hardy; sister, Amelia Mc
Queeney (Jim); sister-in-law, Lu Ann Crawford; and
several nieces and nephews.

Pallbearers are Bill Cochran, Buster Baggett, Bowlin,
Jim McQueeney, Rob Robinson, and Ken Nelson.

Memorials may be made in Frederick's name to the Big
Oak Ranch or the Matthew Streeter Burnham Memorial
at Mulder United Methodist Church in Wetumpka.

"He was a great, great friend," McClinton said. "He
would give you the shirt off his back. That's an overused
saying, but that's just the way he was. He was always
there for you. I was heartbroken when I learned he died."


Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages