Chambers shuts out Springwood for fifth win in a row over Wildcats

Published 12:02 am Saturday, September 28, 2019

LANETT — For the fifth-consecutive season, Chambers Academy (6-0, 2-0) has defeated crosstown rival Springwood School (2-4, 0-2). This time, the AISA No. 3-ranked Rebels marched into Lanett and came out with a 50-0 victory.

“I’m excited for our seniors to say that they’ve never lost to Springwood,” Chambers Academy head football coach Jason Allen said. “That’s a big accomplishment because I think before these last five years, the longest streak of wins in a row [against Springwood] for us was like two. The series has been one-sided for so long, and I’m proud of our seniors, the way they’ve stepped up since being eighth-graders and ninth-graders, and we felt like this game was really important to them. They performed at a high level every time we play these guys.”

On the Rebels’ opening drive, a Caydon Smoot reception at the Wildcats’ 15-yard line set up a 15-yard touchdown run from Braxton Allen with 8:39 remaining in the first quarter.

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After a Springwood three-and-out, a Payton Allen punt return got Chambers Academy across midfield. Braxton Allen brought the Rebels to the Springwood 16-yard line. A false start call on Chambers Academy called back a touchdown pass to Josh Holliday, but quarterback Payton Allen found Holliday in the end zone the very next play to give the Rebels a 16-0 lead with 4:58 to go in the first quarter. 

Springwood kick returners Ethan Plank and O.J. Tolbert got Springwood across midfield on a couple of returns, but the offense struggled to get a rhythm going all night.

Springwood had a moment of hope to begin the second quarter as the Wildcats’ defense forced a turnover on downs to prevent Chambers Academy from scoring. 

Payton Allen then scored on a touchdown run with 8:26 to go in the first half. Braxton Allen later ran in for another rushing touchdown with 3:45 remaining in the second quarter. Braxton Allen scored one final time to put the visitors up 36-0 with 20 seconds remaining in the first half to set Chambers Academy up for cruise control in the second half. 

One of the leading seniors of the night was lineman Dijon Darden. Darden was one of the main reasons why the Wildcats had trouble getting many first downs all night.

“I think Dijon Darden is an unbelievable football player,” Coach Allen said. “Nobody can block him. I just told them that I’m glad he’s on our team because we can’t block him either. He’s just a disruptive force inside.”

Coach Allen also highlighted the efforts of defensive seniors Jake Waldrop, Braxton Allen and Brody Smoot on the night.

Offensively, the Rebels offense moved down the field with quick runs from Braxton Allen and junior quarterback Payton Allen and completed passes to receivers like junior Josh Holliday and senior Caydon Smoot. Junior linemen Jacob Oliver and Dean Sheffield were also commended for their play. Coach Allen said since many of his players have been running the same system since peewee football, there are even cases where they can anticipate the call from the sidelines that he’s going to make next.

Friday night marked the third-consecutive loss against a ranked opponent for the Wildcats, who have also lost to AISA No. 5-ranked Edgewood and AISA No. 1- ranked Autauga Academy in the past three weeks.

“I think the approach has to be the same every single week, regardless of who you’re playing,” Springwood head football coach John Gartman said. “You want to play well and you want to improve, regardless of whether it’s a team that you should beat or a really good team. You just want to play well and improve. We did not play very well tonight, so we’ll go back to the drawing board on Monday and hopefully we can get better next week.”

Gartman also said that the one positive he could pull from Friday night was the effort from his key players.

For the Rebels, Darden also spent time in the backfield on offense as an occasional fullback. He received the first carry on Friday night in addition to converting a two-point conversion at the skill position.

“It’s been fun,” Darden said before cracking a smile. “It caught me by surprise when [Coach Allen] said [to line up there], but it’s been fun.”

Chambers Academy is now officially in the second-half of the season and still has one ranked opponent scheduled as the seniors try to finish their careers with a perfect regular season record. 

“I think every week’s a new week and we have a mature team,” Coach Allen said. “Our senior class is mature and they understand the significance of getting better every week. If you don’t, then you’re not going to be where you need to be at the end of the year. It’s a process and our guys understand that you’ve got to get better at the end of every week or we’re getting worse.”

Chambers Academy remains on the road to face Success Unlimited next week, while Springwood will host Morgan Academy.