COFFEYVILLE, Kan. - Coffeyville Community College sophomore defensive back Gary Chandler, a first-team preseason All-American, has done a lot of things on a football field in his playing career, but Saturday night brought around something new.
That would be ending up a football game around midnight , which is what the No. 9 ranked Red Ravens did in a 16-7 loss to visiting No. 10 Blinn Junior College in a game that did get started until 9:20 p.m. after an over two-hour weather delay.
This is a first for me," noted Chandler, who had seven tackles in the game, has family in Fort Smith and is showing interest in the University of Arkansas and vice-versa. "Pretty wild."
Chandler (5-11, 186, 4.43), a former standout Wichita high school standout running back who originally signed with Kansas State, spent two hours with his teammates in the locker room waiting for the lightning to pass.
"Sitting in the locker room - it took a lot of energy out of us," Chandler said. "We were all rowdy and everything else. But tonight wasn't our night...We lost focus."
That's something that Chandler , who has reports offers from Arkansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Wyoming so far, doesn't intend to do during the season as the Red Ravens try to repeat as Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference champs.
"There are a lot of schools in the mix - Auburn, Florida, Kansas State, KU and Arkansas - but right now I am focused on getting a win," Chandler said. "I have going to keep that (recruiting) in the back of my head right now. When that time comes, I will make the right decision."
Chandler chose Kansas State over Kansas after a 2004 high school season for Wichita Heights in which he rushed 260 times for 1,905 yards 28 touchdowns.
He signed with K-State when they offered him late as a cornerback following in a the tradition of his uncle Vic Chandler, who played for the Wildcats.
His dad Gary, Sr. played at Tulsa while another uncle is Dewayne Chandler, a former Big 8 All-Conference tight end at Kansas.
"I can see myself playing in the SEC, but right now I am just worried about Coffeyville - not the SEC or Big 12 or nothing like that," Chandler said. "We have got a lot of work to do around here. That recruiting thing is going to come last for me."
Arkansas assistant coach James Shibest, a former head coach at Butler Community College, has made an impression on Chandler, who could play either cornerback or safety on the next level.
"He has done a lot of things with a lot of jucos around here and he is a former coach at Butler so he knows talent when he sees it," Chandler said. "For him to come down here and take a look at me that means a lot. I am definitely going to take a full look at Arkansas' program."
He has family on his mom's side in Fort Smith as well as a friend who used to play for the Razorbacks.
"I know a lot (about the Razorbacks) and I've got a lot of family in Arkansas," Chandler said. "I keep tabs on them. I had a friend named Marcus Whitmore who went down there and I just got to stay on it. This recruiting thing is hard."
Chandler's team fell down 9-0 in the first half before closing to 9-7 in the third quarter. Blinn's final touchdown came with 1:13 left in the game and sealed a rare home loss for the Red Ravens.
"We came out a little flat today," Chandler said. "We had opportunities to win this ballgame, but it just didn't workout that way. That's a good team and we're a good team, but we are going to have come back on Monday so we can turn this thing around."
Chandler was not happy with his effort despite the seven tackles, which was third for Coffeyville stops list on a night when Blinn's Bernard Scott rushed for 211 yards on 38 carries.
"I am disappointed in myself and I am hard on myself," Chandler said. "Other people might think I had a good game, but as for me I don't think I had one. This is the first game and I've got a lot of time to work on that."
Coffeyville, who had 10 players off its 2005 roster sign Division I scholarships, travels to Fort Scott next Saturday.
The Red Ravens were 9-3 last season and won the KJCCC playoffs.
"We have got a lot of talent on this team, but there is a lot of guys on this team who had no experience at all coming into this game...We just need a lot of work offensively and defensively. We lost a lot on both sides of the ball, but with hard work we can turn this thing around. We didn't fall off the map."
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