Chandley, a former Daniel Boone athlete, was introduced as the new head football coach at his former rival, David Crockett, on Tuesday.
“I’ve had a lot of people tell me they can’t cheer for Crockett but they can cheer for me,” Chandley said during an introductory press conference in Crockett’s library.
The 25-year-old replaces Gerald Sensabaugh, who was suspended and then fired after a series of conflicts with school administrators.
“We’re focused on the future,” Chandley said. “We have to do a really good job of blocking out the outside noise. We have to do a good job of focusing on what we can control and not all that other stuff. If you do that and play as hard as you can play, we’ll let the chips fall where they may.”
Chandley previously worked at his alma mater UVa.-Wise as linebackers coach and at Bluefield College as running backs coach. He is also a member of the United States Air Force National Guard.
“I’m super excited to get to work with these young men,” Chandley said. “We have a great group of kids here. We have a great support system and I’m just really excited to get to work.”
Chandley said he expects to have a coaching staff in place within the next couple of weeks. Tuesday was officially his first day on the job.
“The support and the love that I have felt over the past few days, it’s just a big family here,” he said. “That’s Washington County at its finest and I can’t wait to see what these guys can do on the field.”
When asked how he wants his team to play, Chandley was quick to answer. “Fast, physical, disciplined,” he said. “That’s going to be the three big things.
“We’re going to do things the right way. We’re going to have very good character on and off the field. That’s in the classroom and the community, because when you go out in the community, you not only represent yourself, you represent this football team, you represent David Crockett as a whole, you represent Washington County as a whole.”
Crockett Athletic Director Josh Kite, a former East Tennessee State baseball player, said he was impressed with Chandley from the start of the interview process.
“The one thing I noticed first about Hayden Chandley is when I’d ask him a question, he’d make eye contact,” said Kite, who is also in the midst of hiring coaches for girls’ basketball and volleyball. “I learned that in my old college days from Coach Tony Skole, make direct eye contact. He’s very impressive. He’s young and he has a lot of energy. His kids will feed off of that. We have a good team coming back and he knows how to coach.”
Boone and Crockett meet annually in the Musket Bowl, a game between two of the area’s most heated rivals. Boone won last year’s edition, 28-21, to clinch a conference championship.
“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. That’s just another game on our schedule. Yes, it’s toward the end of the year so it may have some playoff implications for us and maybe for them, so we look forward to that challenge.”
With family, including his grandparents, looking on, Chandley officially changed sides in the rivalry.
“I feel like I’ve been wearing red my whole life,” he said. “It feels good to have a little gold on. God is good and I’m extremely blessed to be here.”