Chandler battles chronic knee injury while pursuing gridiron dreams

By SCOTTY NICHOLS
Sports Editor

Most stories of success include a segment where the subject must

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT ITAWAMBATIMES.COM IAHS junior tailback Chris Chandler is trying to overcome a rare knee condition during his career with the Indians. Chandler is an exceptional athlete, but is often hampered with chronic knee issues.

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT ITAWAMBATIMES.COM
IAHS junior tailback Chris Chandler is trying to overcome a rare knee condition during his career with the Indians. Chandler is an exceptional athlete, but is often hampered with chronic knee issues.

overcome some sort of obstacle, in order to achieve that success.
For Itawamba AHS running back Chris Chandler, or “Moo Moo” -as he’s better known by most-, he is having to overcome the same chronic obstacle.

Chandler is an exceptional athlete, but he is battling a knee issue that is consistent with osteochondritis dissecans – a joint condition in which bone beneath cartilage in the joint deteriorates, due to lack of blood flow, and causes bone-on-bone friction that often results in pain, swelling and reduced joint motion because pieces of bone can become lodged in the joint.

Most people grind their teeth at the mere sound of those symptoms, but Chandler is determined to keep his nose to the grindstone.

“I’m just trying to ball out every time I get the chance,” says Chandler. “It’s painful when it starts grinding and locking up, but I just try to block it out and do what I’m able to do.”

The condition affects approximately 20 out of every 100,000 people, and is most prominant among adolescents between the ages of 12-18. The condition can also affect any joint, including elbows, shoulders and ankles, but the knee accounts for more than 75-percent of cases.Driven

“My freshman season of high school football, we were playing Saltillo and I took a hit to my knee,” recalls Chandler. “I remember going into the locker room at halftime and having some bad pain and swelling. It was probably messed up before that, but that’s the moment that I really noticed something was wrong.”

Chandler, a junior high quarterback that was converted to running back, rushed 39 times, during his freshman season, for 126 yards and hauled in three passes for 44 yards in five games.

He missed his entire sophomore campaign following an operation to address his knee problem.

“I’ve had three total operations,” said Chandler. “Once, they drilled lots of little holes into the bottom of my femur to try and promote the blood flow. It feels pretty good at times, but sometimes it can just lock up on me and make it difficult to run and move.”

Chandler was held out of the first four games of the 2016 season with the injury, but has racked up 107 rushing yards on 20 carries this season -a 5.4 yards per carry average- with a pair of touchdowns. He’s also caught two passes for 21 yards.

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM Chandler runs through a would-be Corinth tackler on October 14th.

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM
Chandler runs through a would-be Corinth tackler on October 14th.

Chandler is a dynamic player and incredible athlete but his usage and production is limited, at times, due to his condition.

“I try not to think about it,” said Chandler. “I just try to forget about it and go out there and play. Because of what it is, it makes the coaches overprotective a little. It’s just one of those things, though. If I have to stop in a game, I have to stop. If it gives out, it gives out. I’m just trying to give 100-percent every time I’m out there and not play scared of it.”

Chandler says a position change also might improve his usage in the future.

“I was a quarterback in middle school, so I’m gonna look at maybe trying that route again next year,” said Chandler. “Not getting hit every single play would definitely be beneficial.”

As for now, Chandler is focused on what’s happening at the moment.

“We, as a team, are just concentrating on the future,” said Chandler. “We’re focused on Tishomingo County this week, and we’ll take the next step when it’s time to take it. I’m just doing my best to be ready when the coaches call on me, and will continue to do everything I can when they do.”

Chandler and the Indians have locked up a playoff spot already, but will find out what awaits them in the playoffs after this Friday’s home contest with rival Tishomingo County.

scotty.nichols@journalinc.com
Twitter: @ScotNic24

About Scotty Nichols

Graduate of THE University of Mississippi. #HottyToddy. I like sports. And BBQ.

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