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GOING TO WORK: Chambers Academy prepares for its semifinal game this Friday night against Wilcox Academy. Photo by Rashad Milligan

Chambers Academy’s stingy defense the difference between past teams

LaFAYETTE — Hunger.

Every time Chambers Academy junior linebacker Braxton Allen sees the opposing team snap the ball, the only thing on his mind is hunger.

“For me it’s just: Hit, hit, get mean,” Allen said. “Get nasty with it. That’s the way that I like to think about it. Where’s the ball going? I’ve got to get him to the ground.”

The mentality is a theme that is a product of the Rebels’ teaching. This past regular season, Chambers Academy allowed its fewest points ever in a season.

“They’ve been able to win so much that it’s created a passion for the game,” Rebels head football coach Jason Allen said. “Defensively, we’ve got some guys who enjoy playing on that side of the ball and hitting. That’s one of the fun things about football is being able to hit the other guys instead of them hitting you.”

The team is only giving up 55 rushing yards, and 66 passing yards a game this year. Chambers Academy has also forced 25 turnovers on the season. Braxton Allen leads the team in tackles and junior Brody Smoot leads the team in sacks.

This week, the Rebels are preparing to host 8-3 Wilcox Academy in the AISA Class A semifinal. A win would grant Chambers Academy its fourth consecutive trip to the state championship game. It would also mark the team’s fourth attempt in winning the title after coming up empty-handed in the last three seasons.

“We’ve been scoring a lot of points in the last three seasons,” Coach Allen said. “We felt like if we wanted to make an improvement, then we could make it on the defensive side of the ball. There is an old saying of ‘if they can’t score, they can’t win.’ We taken that to heart, and we’ve put extra emphasis on the defensive side of the football. I believe that. We’ve got to play better defense, if we want to win a championship, and hopefully that’s going to be the case this year.”

The practice atmosphere at Chambers Academy was intense, and focused. Thanks to some help from the time change, the Rebels battled on the field from daylight to sunset on Monday afternoon. After the practice, the coaches gathered the players up, and had them sing a song that sounded like a rally cry or alma mater of sorts cheering on the Rebels to victory.

Sophomore quarterback Payton Allen stayed on the field after practice to get some more reps of throwing the ball. The team is dialed in, and ready to breakthrough.

“We’ve got the best coaching staff in the state, we’ve all got great mentalities out here,” Smoot said. “This is what we breathe, what we do. We cut our teeth on what we do out here every day. That’s why we get after it every day.”