Chandler to build at Clear Falls
By L. Scott Hainline
It took two seasons for Darren Chandler to turn Friendswood into a perennial playoff program, and he's looking at about the same timetable at Clear Falls.
Chandler left Friendswood after spending 10 years with the Mustangs the last eight as head coach to create a team from scratch at Clear Falls, the newest of four Clear Creek ISD high schools which opens to freshmen and sophomores in August.
Rebuilding at Friendswood is a lot like what we're going to do at Clear Falls," he said. It wasn't an easy decision to leave Friendswood because I really liked it there, but it shows how excited I am about Clear Falls."
There won't be a chance to extend Chandler's string of six straight playoff berths until 2011-12 when the Knights begin varsity competition with no seniors in District 24-4A.
This season (2010-11), Chandler and his staff will direct junior varsity and freshmen teams before joining the 4A ranks for one season.
We'll have the numbers to move up to 5A in the next UIL realignment (Feb., 2012)," Chandler said. Clear Falls is expecting 1,100 students with just freshman and sophomore classes in August."
Friendswood didn't advance to the postseason in Chandler's first two seasons (2002-04), but the Mustangs won the 23-4A title in his third year, and it was the first of six consecutive playoff berths.
It was tough leaving Friendswood because of all the great relations that were built throughout the past decade," he said. Those relationships are not going to change, they'll just have to find me at another location.
I'm truly excited about being a part of the state's only Educational Village (high school, middle school and elementary at the same location), and starting a program from the ground up."
Chandler is a 1989 La Porte High School graduate who played for Sam Houston State University, where he spent an additional season as a student assistant.
His coaching credentials also include six years at Deer Park Junior High, and Chandler's wife, Tracie, is an assistant principal in the Deer Park ISD, and they have two daughters, Caitlin, 15, and Caroline, 11.
Former Hitchcock and Goose Creek Memorial coach Jeff Keener takes over the boys team for Chandler at Friendswood.
I was really, really pleased when they hired coach Keener," Chandler said. He's an outstanding coach who will work well with everyone, especially the players."
Chandler is bringing his Friendswood assistant coaches, Cliff Lyles and John Hobratschk, to Clear Falls.
Coach Lyles has been my first assistant the past five seasons, and having them there is going to make the transition much easier," he said.
Clear Falls football coach-campus coordinator Mike Zierlein is thrilled to have Chandler on board.
He's one of those good guys who will work well with all of our coaches and teachers," Zierlein said. It's a somewhat unique opportunity to start a program, and coach Chandler is a perfect fit for that."
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