MERRILLVILLE | Donovan Chandler saw as much of the field his first three seasons at Andrean as the press box announcer. It wasn't fun.
Others played. Chandler cheered.
Others scored. Chandler cheered.
Others won. Chandler cheered.
And, stayed the course.
"I stayed patient," said the 5-foot-7, 155-pound senior wide receiver. "I worked hard. I knew my time would come and I'd be able to show what I've got."
If ever there was a blueprint for a student-athlete whose picture isn't in the newspaper as a freshman this is it. Coaches could point to Chandler as an example of a strong mind and goal-setter who doesn't rely on minutes played as a junior.
Andrean coach Phil Mason certainly does.
"Things like this happen," Mason said. "Kids mature into their place on a team. We put him at slot receiver this year and he's done a great job. Fantastic. He's been a big part of what we've done this year."
Today at Lucas Oil Stadium top-ranked Andrean (14-0) will play No. 7 Indianapolis Brebeuf (11-3) in the Class 3A state championship game.
Last year Chandler wasn't on anyone's scouting report. With a team-high 41 catches for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns, you can be sure he is on the Braves' things-to-do list.
Born in Denver, Chandler moved back to his father's home. Chris Chandler played baseball at Lake Central back in the day, just like his son does at Andrean.
Andrean is scoring 44.6 points a game and has only given up 14.4 this season. The 59ers are rushing for 250.4 yards and throwing for 193.2 yards a game. On defense the 'Niners are giving up 104 yards on the ground and 110.7 through the air.
Brebeuf has averaged 246.7 yards a game on the ground and 135.9 by the pass, while giving up just 74.9 on the ground and 148.8 via the pass.
According to Jeff Sagarin's computer, though, Andrean's schedule rank is 116th in the state, wile Brebeuf's schedule was 55th in Indiana, meaning the Braves played better opponents.
Like Chandler did, every 59er will need to step up in order for Andrean to win its first state crown since 2004.
"I just have to do my part," Chandler said. "I know the guy next to me will be doing his job. That's what a team does. Everyone working together."