By CONOR NICHOLL
The numbers are well-known for Andale football. The Indians are 5-0 and have won 43 straight contests. On Friday, 3A No. 1 Andale is at 3A No. 2 Wichita Collegiate in a longtime rivalry.
Andale is closing in on a top-5 all-time winning streak in Kansas history. Andale is currently tied with Hanover, which has the all-time eight-man streak in state annals. A win Friday moves the Indians past another team on the record list.
Andale has won three straight 3A state titles. Its current senior class that includes QB Wyatt Spexarth, RB Riley Marx, LB Jonah Meyer, OL Jack Kraus and all-purpose player Kelby Eck is the most accomplished in school history. Andale has outscored teams, 346-48. The Indians are on an historic pace. Last week, Andale beat Nickerson, 108-0.
Just four programs in Kansas history have won 50 straight games, per state historian Brett Marshall. Smith Center won 79 in a row from ’04-’09, and Pittsburg Colgan captured 66 straight from ’00-04. Conway Springs won 62 in a row from ’01-04, and Claflin earned 51 straight from ’97-00, per Kansas historian Brett Marshall.
This summer, Andale coach Dylan Schmidt, an AHS graduate who, with the exception of one season, has coached with the program in some form since 2006, had a long conversation with Sports In Kansas. The 2022 team information ran in the preseason 3A SIK story.
Schmidt was very open on many topics, including why Andale has success, the Indians’ infrastructure and Andale’s schedule.
Schmidt is 66-2 as Andale’s head coach. Andale has not lost a home game since Aug. 31, 2012 when it fell to Wichita Collegiate. Schmidt’s dad, Mark, is the longtime highly successful pole vault coach at Andale. Schmidt’s mom, Becky, was a teacher.
“The more years you do it, and you do it at a high level, and you have been successful, you kind of have a recipe there, and you just continue to kind of follow it,” coach Schmidt said. “And that’s what we have done. So I am really pleased with where we are at right now. So it’s kind of just hopefully rinse and repeat. With all that said, the challenge is how do you not make it monotonous and keep the hunger?”
1.An unexpected phone call changed Schmidt’s path. At first, Schmidt didn’t want the Andale position. He then reconsidered. Now, he calls himself lucky.
Schmidt loved high school football and loved being around athletics. He twice won the 4A pole vault and cleared 16 feet. His parents are deeply involved in the school system.
“I was a good athlete that did all the sports, and all those things. I just enjoyed that,” he said. “And I remember looking back, kind of at early stuff and going, wow, I am surprised I put down I wanted to be a teacher and a coach.”
After high school, Schmidt went to Kansas State and thought he wanted to do physical therapy. His first job was in medical sales for a few months. Schmidt finished at Wichita State and served as a graduate assistant with the track program. Andale was really successful. Schmidt spent time with the Andale program and conversed with then Andale coach Gary O’Hair.
Schmidt was highly impressed with the Indians. Schmidt first helped as a video person in 2006. That fall, Andale went 14-0 and won its first state title. Andale posted the same record in ’07.
“Without a doubt there was a ton of passion there from the kids,” Schmidt said. “Because it had never been done before.”
O’Hair, who also won a state title in ’14, went 150-30 at Andale and was a 2022 Kansas football coaches hall of fame selection. O’Hair won 29 straight games at Andale, the record before the current one.
Schmidt recalled a story that Andale had a chance to face Ulysses in the playoffs. Andale played Friday, Ulysses on Saturday. A local townsperson flew a prop plane with several Andale coaches to Ulysses to scout the Tigers.
“People were just really excited to do whatever they needed to do to create a winning team and have a chance to win a championship,” Schmidt said.
After college, Schmidt first coached two years at Towanda-Circle, and then came back to Andale. Schmidt knew O’Hair was getting close to retirement. However, Schmidt was “itching” to be a head coach.
After a season at Andale, Schmidt took the head job at Wellington in 2011. Schmidt led Wellington to a 3-6 record, including a 35-28 season-opening victory against Andale. That was Schmidt’s first-ever game as a head coach.
This still marks the last time Wellington has defeated Andale.
O’Hair called Schmidt in the spring of 2012.
“Not expecting it at all,” Schmidt said.
Andale had its P.E. teacher/head softball coach retire. O’Hair said he wasn’t going to coach Andale much longer.
“I think your best chance to get the job is to be here at Andale,’” Schmidt recalled O’Hair saying.
However, Schmidt was going to have to be an assistant coach again. Schmidt liked being the head coach and trying to get his own program going.
Schmidt was the head football and track coach at Wellington. Schmidt told O’Hair he wasn’t interested.
“Thanks, but no thanks,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt thought a lot about O’Hair’s words. Schmidt was going to take a pay cut and a lower-tier coaching position.
“With being a high school football coach, you have got to want to do it,” Schmidt said. “And when I got into it, that’s what I wanted to do. I mean, from Day One, when I started coaching football, I was like, ‘I want to be the head guy.’”
He realized O’Hair was correct.
Schmidt and his wife, Whitney, were the early stages of their relationship. Schmidt took a big picture approach. He thought about where he wanted to raise his future kids.
After one season at Wellington, he returned to Andale.
“It was a tough decision,” Schmidt said. “But in the end obviously it was the right one. But Wellington was great. Those guys treated me well, and I enjoyed being there. …As you know in life, sometimes you have to make some tough decisions, and things don’t always work out the way you thought they would, but I felt like long term it was the best decision.”
Schmidt took a step down to be an Andale assistant. He served on staff under O’Hair retired after 2016 and moved to New Mexico.
“Even then, there were other guys that were qualified and excited about the job,” Schmidt said. “And had been part of the program. So to actually finally get it, things worked out, and I felt extremely lucky that they did.”
Andale went 12-1 with a state runner-up to Bishop Miege in ’17. The following season, the Indians fell, 21-19, to Pratt in the state semifinals and went 11-1.
That is the Indians’ last loss.
Andale set a state mark in 2020 when it became the first-ever Kansas team to shutout each opponent in the playoffs. A 29-22 regular season win in ’19 against Cheney in Week 8 is the Indians’ closest game. Schmidt noted “a lot of vested interest” in the Andale program to be successful.
“There was a lot of time in there where I felt like that’s what I wanted to do,” Schmidt said. “But I think there was ebb and flow throughout that time, where I am going, ‘Hey, this might not happen.’
“And so when I finally got it, I remember thinking, ‘Man, this is a really great opportunity.’ And I have loved it,” he added. “It’s been something that I think about everyday and get up excited, ready to go, and know that I am lucky.”
Andale has longtime assistant coaches. Tim Fairchild is the Indians’ highly respected defensive coordinator and one of the state’s most well-known coaches. Fairchild was Schmidt’s elementary P.E. teacher.
Well-publicized, three Fairchild children, Mason, Katelyn and McKenzie are either playing for/committed to Big 12/SEC programs. McKenzie Fairchild is generally considered the best girl athlete in Kansas currently.
Ted Easter has served a long stint as an Andale assistant with the defensive line. The Easters and Schmidts grew up three houses apart. Dylan and Easter’s son are good friends and lived together in college.
Ted Easter and Tim Fairchild are Rule 10 coaches. Many schools prefer their head coaches to be in the building. Easter was the KFBCA 3A Assistant Coach of the Year in 2021. The track program has had similar divvying of roles, which has helped Andale dominate in the spring. Fairchild is Riley Marx’s uncle.
“It’s been a great marriage with all that going on,” Schmidt said. “And I give those guys credit and everybody. Everybody has roles in their lives or in their jobs or whatever, and those guys wanted to be really good at their roles and they didn’t want to be the head guy. So I think that has helped, and it’s a big reason why we have been successful.”
O’Hair’s son, Tucker, is currently on the Andale staff. Schmidt said the “bulk” of Andale’s offense still comes from O’Hair’s foundation.
“How do you approach it like the 2006 team or like your first year?,” Schmidt said. “And that’s tough to do. It’s just the nature of being a human that there is complacency, and you have got to overcome that.”
2.Andale’s youth football program is critical
When Dylan grew up in Andale, the youth football program was sixth, seventh and eighth grade – and all one team.
“You know how that goes,” he said. “The eighth graders play and the seventh graders if you are really talented, you might play. But the sixth graders aren’t going to play.”
The team played four or five games at Bishop Carroll.
In the early 2000s, Derek Deegan came to Andale and started the youth program. Deegan is a Rule 10 coach, current AHS assistant and still the head of the youth program. Now, Andale has a second and third grade team, plus fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth.
The Schmidts have five children. Their oldest son is involved with the youth program. He plays on the second and third grade team. The roster has 34 players. Andale has anywhere from 25 to 35 players from fourth grade on up.
“We have the best numbers that we’ve ever had in the whole program this year,” Schmidt said.
The youth program has helped Andale enjoy staggering high school numbers. Andale has 84 players this year.
3.Geography, multiple K-8 schools in Renwick school district helps Andale
Andale, on the northwest side of Sedgwick County, is relatively small with 891 population. Andale and Colwich are six miles apart. Colwich has 1,354 population. St. Marks, which is four miles from Colwich, has 124 population.
“That’s kind of some of the magic, too,” Schmidt said. “Is that you have big families and people that come back.”
The students come from Andale, Colwich, St. Marks and Saint Joe. Those towns each have a Catholic church, and the high majority are Catholic.
“From a football perspective, they are playing on that team,” Schmidt said. “Now, the real common thread is the Catholic Church.”
Some of the kids go to nearby Garden Plain or Bishop Carroll, but usually Andale High is around 100 a class. AHS gets around 20-25 apiece from Andale, Colwich and St. Marks and a couple from rural areas.
Andale, Colwich and St. Marks all have their own K-8 schools.
“One of the benefits of our situation is when you look at that versus a middle school setup, is that if a seventh or eighth grader – not so much football, but other activities – guess what, I am the starter on the eighth grade basketball team at Colwich,” Schmidt said. “And we have an eighth grade starting team at Andale, and an eighth grade starting team at St. Marks.”
Schmidt believes the added teams yields more kids getting playing time growing up and stay invested in programs. More kids are playing multiple sports.
“From an athletic development standpoint, that’s helped,” Schmidt said. “All these K-8s, and then the other thing, and really the biggest is that a lot of the people that grew up here come back here. And because of Wichita and being close enough to Wichita, they can live in Andale or Colwich or St. Marks or whatever it is, and they can commute to Wichita.”
Notably, Andale volleyball is second, first, first at state the last three years and undefeated this season. Andale girls’ basketball has consistently reached state. Andale boys have six state track titles since ’13, the girls have won five in a row.
“All playing quite a bit in their K-8 schools,” Schmidt said. “And so they get chances to develop athletic-wise on some of those teams.”
4.Schmidt on Andale’s schedule – does the schedule help prepare Andale for its ultimate goal?
At times, there’s been clamoring for Andale to face Derby, Bishop Carroll or another larger Wichita powerhouse. Schmidt discussed several reasons for Andale’s current schedule.
First, Class 3A to six-man has set districts by the state. Andale is in District 7 with Cheney, Pratt, Nickerson and Smoky Valley. This year, Andale and Wichita Collegiate is a non-district, league game.
This year, Andale played Wellington, Rose Hill and El Dorado in non-district, all league schools. Those are all 4A schools.
However, as long as Andale is 3A, playing games outside of league/district can’t happen.
“If we were in 4A, as long as we take care our league obligation, then all those other games, we can play who we want,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt, though, did address – if Andale could play a larger powerhouse, would it happen?
“Are you worried about the streak or some of those things,” Schmidt said. “I never thought, ‘Hey, our goal is go to win 40 games or 50 or whatever, or 38. That was nothing we ever set out to do. We do set out every year to win the state championship, and that’s always our goal, and we feel like most years we can do it – or at least have a shot.”
Then, Schmidt looks at another question. If the goal is to win a state title, what does Andale need to do schedule-wise?
Schmidt grew up a Kansas State fan. The family had season tickets.
“There’s something to be said for when you win a lot,” Schmidt said. “Kids get used to it, and they are willing to do what it takes to win. … and I love that. But at the same time, when they don’t get challenged enough, sometimes you can get complacent.”
4.The most important key is keeping kids healthy
Schmidt believes Andale has played enough challenging opponents, like Collegiate and Cheney, to have barometers for improvement. More than anything, Andale’s schedule gets the Indians healthy.
“The most important factor in all this, in the run, in our state championships, has been keeping kids healthy,” Schmidt said. “If you get into those (large-school powerhouse) games, and people say, ‘Well, you have got to play the best to be the best,’ I couldn’t disagree more. You have got to keep your kids healthy. The No. 1 thing in football is keeping your guys healthy.”
In Andale’s 3A/4A league, the Indians have had enough mix of stronger opponents to prepare AHS for the playoffs.
“Our guys have been healthy come playoff time,” Schmidt said. “And if our guys are healthy, then I like our chances. But in 3A, 4A football and for any level for that matter, you get the wrong guys hurt, you are screwed.”
Schmidt remembered Andale have really good teams when he was an assistant. The Indians had standout Anthony Capul, among Andale’s all-time greats. Capul, a 2017 graduate, won two state wrestling titles and competed in Division I wrestling.
One year, Capul hurt his shoulder. In that same season, Zach Meyer tore his ACL on the opening kickoff.
“You could go on and on and on, all those years that we didn’t make a run, or we didn’t do as well, and usually we had a couple key injuries,” Schmidt said. “You just can’t sustain that.”
The No. 1 goal is to win state.
“We feel like if we stay healthy, we have a shot,” Schmidt said. “When you are playing the Derbys, and you are playing the Bishop Carrolls, and you are playing the Wichita Northwest or whoever, guess what, your guys are going to get beat up, because you are going to play four quarters of knock-down, drag-out, and if you do that week in and week out, that’s tough to do.”
Schmidt and longtime Derby coach Brandon Clark are great friends. Andale and Bishop Carroll know each other well. BC’s athletic director and Schmidt grew up pole vaulting and are good friends. Andale’s JV and freshman play the Wichita powers often in football.
“Now, would I love to play Derby or Bishop Carroll or any of those teams?,” he added. “You bet. Because that is part of being a competitor. Is you step back and you say, ‘All right, let’s go.’
“At the same time, like I said, there’s a balance there to say, ‘All right, well what’s the ultimate goal? And does that take us toward the goal or does that take us away from it. I don’t know. That’s a great question.”
“But I don’t think murderer’s row, lining up all those teams every week and playing them is the way to do it. I just think you get too many guys hurt.”
5. Andale loves playing a lot of Indians
Andale’s high frequency of blowout wins has kept numbers high – and allowed the Indians to continually have a lot of players see the field.
“The other thing that I really enjoy from a program standpoint is guess what, we have got 84 guys out for football,” Schmidt said. “And there’s a reason. The reason why we have 84 out is because those guys get to play. It’s seniors that maybe not played as much. Guess what, the game is in control, and we play them more at the end.
“It’s the juniors that maybe weren’t going to play as much, well guess what, now he gets to play,” he added. “And when everyone is playing on Friday night, they like it, and they stay out and that’s a good thing. So when you talk about great practices and great numbers and all that, all that stuff ties in.”