By Katie McElvy
Fireworks rang out over Torbert-Allen Field once again on Thursday night signifying that the Chambers Academy Rebels would once again play for a state championship. After appearing in six straight championships, the Rebels have been on a two year hiatus from game, falling in the semifinals for the last two seasons.
“What a great night. Our team has worked hard and gotten better and better all season long. It’s a tribute to our fans and community to help create such a wonderful environment for our home games. We’ve had a great year and to be able to cap it off undefeated at home was just an awesome experience. Our seniors finished out their last year at CA in style,” said Head Coach Jason Allen.
The Rebels faced an 8-3 Patrician in round two. The game started in the Saints’ favor as they pinned the Rebels inside their own 5-yard line. A blocked punt that went out of the back of the end zone gave Patrician a safety and the ball on the CA 45.
The Chambers defense then went to work forcing a three and out and shifting the momentum. Allen commented, “The game didn’t start the way we would have liked, but our guys didn’t panic. My hats off to Coach Dillon NesSmith, and the defense on just a dominating performance. They have shown up all year long with terrific play and have been as consistent as I could ask for.”
The Rebels once again started their drive pinned deep, and the ground game was not yet established. Facing a 4th and 2 situation, the Rebels did a hard count drawing Patrician offsides to earn a first down. Kole Baker then connected with Koreen Henry for a 25-yard pickup, and Henry followed with another 20-yard run. Jacob Norgard ran in the touchdown and the two point conversion to take the lead 8-2.
Luke Tarver started off the second quarter with a bang as he went the distance on a 59-yard run to extend the Rebel lead 14-2.
Norgard returned a punt to the 5-yard on the next series, but the Rebels fumbled two plays later, giving the ball to Patrician. The defense once again stepped in with a big sack from Drew Sheppard to force a punt.
Back on offense, Baker hooked up with Henry for two gains, and Norgard scored the 25-yard touchdown sending the Rebels into halftime up 20-2.
Chambers opened up the second half with a Tarver touchdown to make the score 26-2. Austin Brooks recovered a fumble to give Chambers the ball, but the drive stalled. On 4th and six, the Rebels attempted a fake punt, and Eli Whorton went on a 26-yard run to set up another Tarver touchdown.
The Rebels had one more defensive stand highlighted by a Ryan Smith sack for a loss of 8 yards.
Tyson Hewett punched in the last score of the night to give Chambers a 38-2 win and a ticket to the AISA AA State Championship game.
The Rebels posted 497 yards of total offense. Baker completed 10 of 12 passes for 99 yards. Koreen Henry was his main target as Henry had 9 receptions for 91 yards.
On the ground, Jacob Norgard made a big return after nursing an injury last week. He rushed for 165 yards and 2 touchdowns on 5 carries. Luke Tarver added 119 yards and 3 touchdowns on 13 attempts.
Ryan Smith, Drew Sheppard, and Kyle Hand led the way on defense with 6 tackles each. Austin Brooks, Landon Hand, and Parker Otto followed with 5 tackles each.
On Thursday, Chambers will face Banks Academy, a team whom they beat earlier in the year 67-18. That was the Jets’ only loss of the season, and as the Rebels know all too well, beating a team twice provides quite the challenge.
“Banks is a very athletic team. We beat them soundly during the season, but it won’t be the same this time. They will have a better grasp for how to play us the second time around. They were also missing three to four key players the first time around that make a difference for their team. They will be excited to play for a championship,” reiterated Allen.
The Rebels will travel to Cramton Bowl in Montgomery for the big game.
“This will be a chance for our team to cement its legacy forever.” Allen continued, “I’m excited to go one more week with these guys and to have a chance to finish off a magical year.”