By Dave Ongie
After a tumultuous season that saw the suspension of head football coach Gerald Sensabaugh, David Crockett High School turned the page and started a new chapter last Tuesday by formally introducing Hayden Chandley as the next football coach.
For his part, Chandley seemed committed to focusing on the future.
“We’ve got to do a really good job of blocking out the outside noise,” Chandley said during a press conference at the school. “An old coach told me one time – and it’s stuck with me since he said it – we’ve got to be able to control what we can control. We can’t control what the other team’s going to line up in; we can’t control what the weather is going to be like; we can’t control what the referees are going to do. So we’ve got to do a good job of focusing on the things we can control and not worry about that other stuff.
“If we do that, we’ll let the chips fall where they may.”
Chandley referred to advice he got from former coaches on a few occasions during his introductory press conference. It makes sense that Chandley would store away every nugget of wisdom over the years because he’s wanted to be a coach for as long as he can remember.
“A lot of people go their whole life not getting to do what they love,” Chandley said. “I’m at such a young age, and to be able to do what I do what I want to do, and to get to know these young men and grow relationships with them, that’s what it’s all about. I’m extremely blessed to be here, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Chandley was a standout athlete at Daniel Boone High School, where he played baseball, basketball and football before graduating in 2011. He admitted that it will be a new experience to take the field for the annual Musket Bowl on the other side of the iconic rivalry between Boone and Crockett.
“That one may mean a little more, but we’re going to prepare the same way,” Chandley said. “We’re going to go out there and try to win. We’re not going to put any added pressure on the kids.”
Following his high school career, Chandley went to UVA-Wise to continue playing football. As he was wrapping up his Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management, he served as a student assistant coach before taking a part-time coaching job with the school following his graduation.
Chandley joined the Air Force National Guard in 2015 and eventually took a job as an assistant coach at Bluefield College last season.
As he takes over the program at Crockett, Chandley has a very clear vision for what kind of football program he wants to build in Jonesborough.
“Fast, physical, disciplined,” he said when asked about his preferred style of play. “We’re going to do things the right way. We’re going to have very good character on and off the field.”