Gary Chandler and his Wichita Heights teammates are locked and loaded for the postseason. After a 3-0 run through district play, Chandler's team is a confident group.
"We just finished districts against Manhattan, Junction City and Emporia,” said Chandler. “Manhattan was a pretty good team coming in at 7-1, but we beat them 22-0 and won all three districts games. We're now getting ready for state. We're confident, but we've still got to keep our eyes open."
Those eyes are set firmly on Wichita Southeast, a team that Chandler has seen before.
"We've got to play Wichita Southeast again. They're 2-7 but they made the playoffs, so give them credit. We beat them 21-14 first game of the season, now we'll have to do it again."
That first game against Southeast was Chandler’s debut as a member of the Wichita Heights football squad. The two-star prospect transferred from Wichita East and has since enjoyed a sensational season playing runningback and safety for the Falcons.
"This season has being going great. I've rushed for 200-plus (yards) in the last 3 games,” Chandler explained. “I've rushed for a total of 1491 yards and 22 touchdowns."
Despite his success on offense, Chandler sees himself contributing in the secondary at either Kansas or Kansas State. The Jayhawks are the only school to offer him a scholarship so far, but up until a week ago, the Wildcats and Florida Gators were very much in the picture. That picture changed when it was announced that Ron Zook’s tenure at Florida would end at the completion of this season.
”It was KU, K-State and Florida. Then since the firing last week, I'm just down to two,” Chandler said.
The senior star also admitted that Florida dropping off his list was a combination of his own interest in Ron Zook and the likelihood of Zook’s successor not showing the same interest in him that Zook did.
The Gators departure leaves the two in-state schools and Chandler says that while he doesn’t have an offer from K-State, he does have a visit lined up.
“I’m going to be in Manhattan on December 10th to visit Kansas State. I think I’m coming down to Lawrence to see the Jayhawks play one more time this year, probably for the Texas game.”
Chandler watched Kansas top Tulsa earlier this year and was impressed with the atmosphere at KU’s Memorial Stadium as well as the results on the field.
"When I went up the game it was a real beautiful atmosphere and they put on a good show. KU is still my number one right now. They lost a couple of close ballgames but they're still a good football team to me."
Chandler has also watched the Wildcats struggle at times this year but still thinks highly of KSU, especially after the program sent a coach to watch his most recent performance.
”Kansas State has played good football at times and other times they've played inconsistently. They came out and watched us play Manhattan so that let me know they had a little interest.”
The December visit to Manhattan could change a lot for Chandler, but right now Kansas still holds a lead based on their offer and how impressed he’s been with the Jayhawks’ progress under Mark Mangino.
”They've just been playing some real good football to me. I watched the Oklahoma game on TV and I was very impressed. To me, there's a great possibility I could be there.”
So when will this flying Falcon land on a school?
“I think I'll make my decision a little after the football season after everything starts to wind down. I think I'm going to go ahead and go to K-State on the tenth (of December), so it would have to be after the tenth.”
With that visit and his final college decision still several weeks away, all Chandler wants to think about is improving his team’s perfect 9-0 record and going all the way to the state title game.
"I think we have a very good chance to win it,” Chandler stated. “I'd take us over any team in the state. Hopefully we can get the job done with four more games to go."