QB VII: Jack Alexander Sr. rescued local youth football, paving the path for his son to lead the Redondo High Sea Hawks
by Randy Angel
When an email was sent to families informing them that the 2008 fall flag football season had been cancelled, eight-year-old Jack Alexander was devastated. He put his uniform on and, clutching his football, stayed in bed the rest of the day sobbing.
Alexander loved playing sports, beginning with T-ball at the age of four, in the old North Redondo Little League. It was then that he became good friends with John Jackson III whose father, a former standout wide receiver at USC known as JJ, was the coach.
In 2007, Jackson suggested to Jack Sr. that their sons play flag football in the Redondo Pacific Coast Conference. Their team went undefeated and then played in the newly-formed South Bay Youth Sports league in the spring, which they also won.
So, the following year, when South Bay Sports cancelled its fall season two days before opening day, Jack Sr. decided to take matters into his own hands.
He called dads and coaches vowing to save the season. The day before the season was scheduled to start, he went to Mira Costa High School at 7 a.m. to ask permission to use the football field. He was told he would need permission from both the Manhattan Beach Unified School District and Manhattan Beach Athletic Foundation (MBX).
Alexander wrote a check to the foundation for approximately $15,000, bought insurance for all 233 kids and, with the help of MBX foundation President Gary Wayland, got the MBUSD to sign off. At 6:10 that evening, he put the word out that the Beach Cities Youth Flag Football League season was on.
“I had to do something not just to help my son, JJ3, and the other kids in our neighborhood on our team, but for all of the kids in the beach cities,” said Jack Sr. who became first president of the new league. “It was a wild ride and helped change the culture of youth sports in our community, so I am very proud of stepping up to start the BCS.”
BCS players, Jack Alexander among them, also helped change the trajectory of Redondo Union High football. Alexander recently finished his senior season at Redondo, after leading the Sea Hawks to the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound signal caller was a dual threat for Redondo, possessing a strong arm and quick feet.
In 11 games, he averaged 196.2 yards passing per game, throwing for 2,138 yards and 18 touchdowns, with only six interceptions. He also ran the ball 110 times for 724 yards (6.5 average) and nine touchdowns.
Alexander finished his prep career wearing the same No. 7 he wore since he began playing football at the age of seven.
Alexander did not play quarterback until his first year of tackle football, when he joined the Redondo Pop Warner team as an 8th grader.
Though originally slated to play wide receiver, he made an impression on coach Tom Coate who told Jack’s father after the team’s first practice he would need his own football because he was the new quarterback.
“During that season that I really fell in love with the game,” Alexander said. “I knew I wanted a career in football and someday become a coach. The passion and intensity in tackle football is extreme. You only play 10 games a season. There is no other sport like it.”
Coate, the current head coach at Chadwick in Palos Verdes, saw something special in Alexander.
“He was tall, athletic, and had a fierce competitive spirit,” Coate recalled. “Once I saw Jack throw a football, I thought he was the ideal fit for a great quarterback. He had a incredibly high football I.Q., was very coachable, and was a leader. I knew then that he was not only going to be our quarterback, I knew Jack was going to be a great quarterback for all his future teams.
“What makes Jack special is that he is a humble and hungry warrior. Jack always gives his best effort, is competitive and makes others around him better — a leader in every sense. One of my greatest memories is coaching this wonderful young man.”
In only his second year playing tackle football, Alexander was named MVP of Redondo’s freshman team after throwing for 2,500 yards and 24 touchdowns with only one interception.
But Alexander wanted more. As a member of a devout Catholic family, he had attended St. James Elementary School in Torrance and decided to transfer to St. John Bosco as a sophomore.
“I wanted an opportunity to play with the best,” Alexander said. “Bosco had recently won a national championship (2013). I carpooled with some guys in the area. It was a year of learning and game experience against high-quality opponents.”
But the carpool to the Bellflower campus was falling through and the long, grueling days of getting up early and arriving home late took its toll. Alexander decided to return to Redondo.
“I have no regrets about the decision,” Alexander said. “It was nothing but football and academics. I wanted to fully enjoy the high school experience and I really missed my friends. The Redondo community is great and the school’s football program is strong with a lot of history.”
Alexander began his junior season as the Sea Hawks starting quarterback and led the team to a share of the Bay League title. The team reached the second round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs, losing a heartbreaker to top-seeded Sierra Canyon 41-34 in triple overtime.
Yet it was the season opener that Alexander considers the most memorable moment of his career.
“It was my first varsity start and we beat a very good Rancho Verde team 28-22 in double overtime,” Alexander said. “It was among the top five games I’ve played. I was anxious and nervous. It was breathtaking to take the field as the starting quarterback for the first time. It’s those kind of emotions that make football such a special game.”
Alexander led a late drive to tie the score then connected with Julian Woodard on a 25-yard screen pass to win the game. It was one of only two games Rancho Verde lost that season.
Another highlight of his career came in this year’s regular-season finale when he played with a severe ankle sprain.
“I’m all about winning and there was no better feeling than beating Mira Costa on their turf this year,” Alexander exclaimed. “Coming from behind and connecting with Pierre Dawson for the winning score was so exciting and I’m proud to have beaten Costa in my junior and senior years.”
The Alexander-Pierre connection went deeper than on the field. Dawson, a Canadian who wanted to play American football, has lived with the Alexander family since August.
Alexander has worked hard to reach the level he is at, having worked with former USC head coaches Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian, former NFL quarterback Billy Joe Hobert and a number of high school and college coaches, including Matthew Hatchette (LB Poly), Ryan Campbell (Westlake), Chad Johnson (St John Bosco), Seth Oseransky (College of the Canyons) and Eric Wilson (RUHS alumni who played for the University of Washington).
Along with Coate, and of course his father, Alexander considers John Aponte (current RUHS offensive coordinator) and private instructor Danny Hernandez (Team Dime/Premium Sports) as the major influences in his career.
“I appreciate Coach Aponte for letting me showcase all my skills,” Alexander said. “I really enjoyed working with him.”
Aponte resigned as Banning’s head coach after the 2016 season to join Matt Ballard’s staff at Redondo.
“Jack is an amazing kid. I’ve watched him go through ups and downs and I’ve loved the way he fights through it,” Hernandez said. “This last year he lost two of his best offensive weapons (running back Jermar Jefferson and receiver Julian Woodard), who decided to transfer to Narbonne. He didn’t cry about it. He just got to work and understood he was going to have to shoulder the load. Jack is a playmaker but I think I admire his mental toughness the most. I know he’s undecided but the (college) team that lands him will be happy because they are getting a good one.”
Alexander sets very high goals for himself and considers his ability to extend plays to be the strength of his game.
“I’m extremely competitive and emotional, even when I’m just playing video games like Madden,” Alexander said. “I’m very proud of some of my performances but numbers never mean much to me — I just want to win.”
Alexander’s high football IQ has transferred to the field from the classroom where he holds a 4.2 GPA.
“I like math and English and enjoy writing,” Alexander said. “But my favorite class is government taught by (RUHS girls volleyball coach) Tommy Chaffins. He makes the class so enjoyable.”
Alexander wants to play football as long as he can and is looking for a university that has a strong combination of athletic and academic programs.
“I want to play in college and get a free education with a scholarship,” Alexander said. “I’ll see where the game takes me. I am so passionate about football and I hope to coach one day, passing my knowledge on to young players as others have done for me.”
Alexander is considering the University of San Diego and Azusa Pacific and has been contacted by Benedictine University (Chicago), Arizona State, and Washington State, as well as USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin.
He plans to major in business with a focus on business management and would like to follow in his father’s footsteps by running his own business.
When not on the gridiron, Alexander enjoys playing video games and pickup basketball games.
“I also enjoy hanging out at the beach with friends whom I consider part of my family,” Alexander said. “I want to spend as much time with them before we all go away to college. But I keep things in check and keep my name on the positive side.”