At first glance, all signs point Bellarmine Prep’s Calvin Chandler in the direction of the University of Washington.
He is the epitome of a student-athlete. He is a standout football player for the Lions – a touted wide receiver and safety. And both his father (Jeff) and grandfather (Cal) played football for the Huskies.
Yet, what might stop that tradition from continuing is his grades – they are better suited for the halls of Harvard and Yale over most programs in the Pacific-12 Conference.
“Wearing a Husky jersey and playing for the team I grew up rooting for is something I’ve always kind of dreamed of,” Chandler said. “I think it would mean a lot to go there next year. But it has to be a perfect fit.”
The Lions’ leading tackler in 2011, Chandler also accounted for more than 700 receiving yards last season. Chandler finished his junior year with a 3.85 grade-point average despite taking all advanced-placement and honors courses.
All of that has caught the eye of Pac-12 schools, including Washington. But it was after a spring-break visit to Stanford that Chandler was told he could play football at some of the most prestigious academic schools in the country.
On that trip, he asked Cardinal coaches how many advanced placement (college-level) classes he would need to get in. They told him he had already fulfilled their requirements, even with a year of high school remaining.
“Calvin is extraordinarily competitive,” said Jeff Chandler. “He really drives himself internally. I’ll be honest, I get concerned. He is up until 12 to 1 in the morning studying during football season, getting five hours of sleep.”
Academics are on equal footing with football as factors in his college choice – which might push the teenager to choose a school such as Stanford (where ex-Bellarmine teammate Michael Rector studies and plays football) or UCLA.
“Both my father and I are trying to be objective with the choices Calvin has in school, even if we have a lot of personal pride in UW and dislikes in other schools,” said Jeff, chairman of the Big W Club, an association for UW lettermen. “It’s hard to be a Husky fan – having grown up in the Northwest and having ties to the university – and be objective. We don’t have helmet pictures or personal-ego shrines, but Calvin knows we both played there (at UW) and had fond memories there.”
Jeff Chandler was a three-year letterman at center for Don James and the Huskies from 1987-89. He was on two bowl-winning teams, the Independence in 1987 and Freedom in 1989.
Cal Chandler was a defensive lineman at the Huskies from 1959-64.
Whatever college choice Calvin Chandler makes, he has unfinished business this season with Bellarmine Prep, where he is expected to assume a bigger role for a team that could be a Class 4A state championship contender.
Coach Tom Larsen wants his standout to play with “instinct and athletic ability,” and not try to over-think what he sees on the field.
Which is second nature, Calvin Chandler admits.
“It’s not just about being a football player,” Chandler said. “I want to be a student first. That is something I take very seriously. While I want to push myself on the football field, I want to push myself in the classroom as well.
“I don’t want to just be good at football. I want to be the best all-around person I can be.”
Bellarmine Prep On the Throne
Bellarmine Prep is expected to be a 4A state contender for a third consecutive season.
In the Spotlight
Bellarmine Prep’s Sefo Liufau, headed to Colorado, is on the short list of top in-state quarterbacks behind Skyline’s Max Browne.
Change is Good
South Kitsap coaches Royal Gunn, Fred Dunagan, Ed Fisher and D.J. Sigurdson debuted with winning seasons. Up next – Eric Canton.
By the Numbers
Central Kitsap’s Nick Zawadzki (1,277 yards) and Yelm’s Jacob Swilley (1,000) are returning 1,000-yard rushers.
Bellarmine Prep (11-1 in 2011), Olympia (9-2), South Kitsap (6-4), Central Kitsap (5-5), Gig Harbor (5-5), Stadium (3-7), Yelm (2-7).
Mark the Date
Oct. 19: Bellarmine Prep at Olympia, Ingersoll Stadium, 7 p.m.
NARROWS LEAGUE PREVIEW
Coach: Tom Larsen, 10th year
2011 record: 11-1, 1st in league; lost in 4A quarterfinals.
Offense: Coordinator (set) - Brian Jensen (multiple I-based) Returning starters – 8. Top players - WR Calvin Chandler, 6-3, 215, sr.; TE Logan Hickman, 5-10, 224, sr.; OL Kevin Kors, 5-11, 300 sr.; QB Sefo Liufau, 6-4, 220, sr.; OL Matthew McDougal, 6-2, 291, sr.; OL Macartney McQuery, 6-3, 300, sr.; OL Zach Ota, 5-9, 247, jr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) - Dan Shaw (3-3 stack). Returning starters – 7. Top Players - DB/LB Calvin Chandler, 6-3, 215, sr.; DB Drew Griffin, 6-0, 200, jr.; LB Lou Millie, 5-0, 197, jr.; LB Michael Ota, 5-11, 195, sr.; LB Jacob Salazar, 5-11, 185, sr.
Outlook: Bellarmine Prep could contend for a state championship. Liufau, headed to Colorado, has one of the top offensive lines protecting him. A big blow was the loss of all-league tailback Isaiah Flynn, who is concentrating on basketball – but there is plenty of talent here.
Central Kitsap Cougars
Coach: Mark Keel, 13th year
2011 record: 5-5, 5th in league.
Offense: Coordinator (set) – Mark Keel (spread). Returning starters - 5. Top players - WR Gregory Cleveland, 5-9, 175, sr.; QB Cody LaFontaine, 6-1, 185, sr.; WR Tyler Parker, 5-10, 185, sr.; RB Nick Zawadzki, 5-11, 185, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) – Eric Schuette (4-4). Returning starters - 6. Top players – DB Gregory Cleveland, 5-9, 175, sr.; DL Austin Miller, 6-5, 230, sr.; DB Tyler Parker, 5-10, 185, sr.; LB Taylor Soete, 6-1, 220, jr.
Outlook: It is a spread offense that should showcase plenty of speed, led by Zawadzki, who is in line for plenty of carries – and is one of the league’s best home-run threats. If defenses focus too much on him, Keel will call on Cleveland and Parker to make plays on the outside – if LaFontaine can deliver in his first season at quarterback.
Gig Harbor Tides
Coach: Aaron Chantler, first year
2011 record: 5-5, 3rd in league; lost in 4A districts.
Offense: Coordinator (set) - Aaron Chantler (spread). Returning starters - 5. Top players - RB Sterling Brown, 5-10, 175, jr.; WR Reese Carlson, 6-4, 195, sr.; QB Garrett Gallinger, 6-4, 215, sr.; WR Jonathan Lawson, 6-2, 195, sr.; WR Garret Steuk, 5-9, 165, jr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) - Ti Zurfluh (multiple). Returning starters - 4. Top players - DB Jon Michael Cosper, 6-2, 170, sr.; DB Jack Schweitzer, 6-3, 215, sr.; LB Matt Smith, 5-10, 200, jr.; LB T.J. Turnbull, 5-11, 200, sr.; LB Harrison White, 5-10, 200, sr.
Outlook: What didn’t happen this past offseason? One longtime coach (Darren McKay) was let go. A first-time coach (Chantler) was hired in May. But to overlook a perennial playoff-challenging program would be a mistake. White, an all-league middle linebacker, stabilizes the defense. Big decision looms at quarterback between Gallinger and Conor Scanlan.
Coach: Bill Beattie, 18th year
2011 record: 9-2, 2nd in league; lost in 4A first round.
Offense: Coordinator (set) - Bill Beattie (multiple). Returning starters - 4. Top players - RB Kyle Alfonso, 5-10, 200, sr.; RB Casey Bond, 5-10, 190, sr.; WR Alex Johnson, 6-5, 210, sr.; OL Connor Wilmovsky, 6-5, 270, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) - Todd McDougall (4-3). Returning starters - 3. Top players - DL Kyle Alfonso, 5-10, 200, sr.; DL Tanner Hartsoch, 6-2, 215, sr.; DB Randy Jones, 5-11, 175, jr.; DL Connor Wilmovsky, 6-5, 270, sr.
Outlook: Based on tradition, consistency and coaching, the Bears are threats to win the league. And while this might be considered a down year in the program’s talent pool, Johnson is a go-to threat in the passing game, and Wilmovsky moves people from his offensive tackle spot. Gabe Padukiewicz gets first crack as the starting quarterback.
South Kitsap Wolves
Coach: Eric Canton, first year.
2011 record: 6-4, 3rd in league; lost in 4A districts.
Offense: Coordinator (set) - Eric Canton (I-formation). Returning starters – 7. Top players - RB Bryce Broome, 5-10, 170, sr.; RB Adam Gascoyne, 5-10, 170, sr.; OL Austin Kanouse, 6-3, 250, sr.; OL Damien Medeiros, 6-1, 250, sr.; QB Kevin Whatley, 5-11, 165, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) - Adam Kanouse (4-3). Returning starters - 4. Top players - LB Michael Beard, 5-10, 185, sr.; DB Bryce Broome, 5-10, 170, sr.; DB Adam Gascoyne, 5-10, 170, sr.; DL Shaw Hesse, 6-3, 180, sr.; LB Devon Newquist, 6-1, 175, sr.; LB Illya Tsveytkov, 6-2, 215, sr.
Outlook: Canton played for ex-coach, legend Ed Fisher, and coached under ex-coach D.J. Sigurdson for a decade. So very little change is coming on offense where the Wolves will continue to pound the ball on the ground. It helps that they have two dependable tailbacks to lean on in Gascoyne (827 yards, 10 TDs) and Broome.
Coach: Jess Nelson, sixth year
2011 record: 3-7, 8th in league.
Offense: Coordinator (set) - Ross Stewart (wing-T). Returning starters - 4. Top players - TE Jacob Bills, 6-0, 180, sr.; WR Jonathan Buchholtz 6-2, 170, sr.; OL Cooper Hayes, 6-0, 190, sr.; RB Nick Loftin, 5-6, 160, jr.; QB/WR Tre Scott, 5-10, 165, jr.; OL Christian Tavile, 5-8, 170, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) - John Schumacher (3-5). Returning starters - 4. Top players - LB Jacob Bills, 6-0, 180, sr.; DB Jonathan Buchholtz, 6-2, 170, sr.; LB Cooper Hayes, 6-0, 190, sr.; DB Tre Scott, 5-10, 165, jr.; LB Christian Tavile, 5-8, 170, sr.
Outlook: Some programs can absorb the loss of 23 seniors in stride. The Tigers do not have that track record, and will need to rely on younger players on both sides of the ball. Replacing three-year starting quarterback Tyler Stumph will be a challenge, but Scott - an all-league honorable mention receiver last season – will try.
Coach: Randy Swilley, fifth year
2011 record: 2-7, 4th in Narrows 3A.
Offense: Coordinator (set) - Randy Swilley (multiple). Returning starters - 6. Top players - OL Cody Anderson, 5-10, 260, sr.; RB Kyle Brownell, 5-10, 175, sr.; RB Quentin Buck, 5-10, 175, jr.; RB Jacob Swilley 5-10, 185, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) - Randy Swilley (4-3). Returning starters - 6. Top players - DB Quentin Buck, 5-10, 175, jr.; DB Greg Martin, 6-1, 175, jr.; DL Nathan Mix, 6-1, 230, jr.; DE Max Painter, 5-10, 175, sr.; DB Jacob Swilley, 5-10, 185, sr.
Outlook: One of the schools that went up a classification after reclassification, Yelm will test the 4A waters for the first time. Again, much will be asked of Jacob Swilley – the coach’s son – in his bid for three consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons. And he’ll have to try to accomplish that behind a smaller offensive line.T.J. Cotterill, staff writer