On Friday, Lakeside High quarterback Chad Chandler had a ceremony to commemorate his signing to play football at Randolph-Macon. It was the culmination of four years of hard work.
Three of those years were spent as the starting quarterback for the Panthers. He threw for more than 3,000 yards and topped the 1,000-yard mark on the ground. He accounted for 22 touchdowns, and more importantly helped turn the Lakeside program around.
In 2006, the Panthers struggled to three wins under head coach Randy Hill. Chandler ran the triple-option offense, and yards were very tough to come by. The following season Jody Grooms took over the program and installed a new passing-style offense.
Chandler flourished in the new system. With Dustin Banks and Levi Hanks catching passes, Lakeside's offense gave opposing teams fits. Chandler would finish the season among the state leaders in passing. He completed 147 of 263 passes (56 percent) for 1,686 yards.
However, wins were still in short supply as Lakeside posted its second straight 3-7 season. As Grooms prepared his team for the 2008 campaign, he again changed the offense. Based on his personnel he felt the team would have more success running what was essentially a spread-style offense. Chandler would be called on to use his legs just as much as his arm.
The now 5-foot-10, 180-pound signal caller responded. He threw less (going 86 of 147 for 948 yards), but his rushing total more than doubled and so did the Panthers' win total. The more balanced offense was a key reason why the Panthers were able to post seven wins. Chandler accounted for 16 touchdowns and was named First Team All-County.
The team lost a four-way tie-breaker for the playoff spot, but the turnaround was a major accomplishment. Chandler's all-out style and hustle drew admiration from home and visitor fans alike.
I'm sure his parents are worried -- what parent isn't when their child moves away to college? Well, the Chandlers should sleep easy. I am quite sure their son will succeed in anything he puts his mind on.
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