Championship Academy: Rebels dominate Banks Academy in Montgomery

Published 8:29 pm Thursday, November 16, 2023

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Chambers Academy traveled to Montgomery on Thursday and completed the mission the Rebels started in the offseason as they trounced Banks Academy 41-14. 

After a back-and-forth first half, the coaching staff and the players made adjustments and dominated the rest of the game. 

“We didn’t panic,” Chambers Academy coach Jason Allen said. “Our kids, credit to them, they believe in everything we say, hang on every word, and those adjustments were simple.” 

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This is Allen’s third championship in his long tenure as the Rebels’ coach. It is the team’s first championship since 2020. The seniors on this championship team were just freshmen in 2020, and they made sure to leave their mark in the history books. 

“These guys all year talked about leaving a legacy,” Allen said. “Ryan Smith, he kind of brought that to our team. We wanted to leave our own legacy, and this team got better and better every week.” 

Smith and Kyle Hand each spoke to the legacy that this team has left on their school. As seniors, both were a part of the 2020 team, but this championship means that much more. 

“The first one felt good, but I think this one is going to feel a bit better,” Hand said. 

Chambers Academy started the first quarter with a dominating 68-yard drive that Luke Tarver finished off with a five-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful, but the Rebels took a 6-0 lead with 9:49 left in the first quarter. 

Banks Academy answered back on the ensuing drive as Gerrell Perry connected with Camadre Coleman on an 11-yard touchdown pass to cap off the 50-yard drive.
The Jets fell short on their next scoring opportunity as Koreen Henry intercepted Perry’s pass at the five-yard line. Henry soon became dynamite for the Rebels in the second quarter. On the ensuing drive, Kole Baker connected with Henry on a 65-yard pass. The drive fell short of the goal line as Baker’s quarterback sneak attempt was stuffed at the one-yard line. 

Chambers Academy found a way to steal momentum right before the end of the first half as Baker connected with Henry on the sideline again on a 33-yard pass. Tarver then capped off the drive with a 10-yard rushing touchdown on the next play to give the Rebels a 12-7 lead at halftime. 

“It’s huge,” Allen said about the play. “Going into the half up, that’s huge for us.” 

Chambers Academy played a stifling brand of defense in the first half. Allen’s message to the team going into halftime was to finish the game. 

“Just keep playing, it’s four quarters,” Allen said. 

The Rebels came out with an opportunistic defense and dominated the second half. It all started with Henry catching his second interception of the game. Chambers Academy then led a 96-yard drive capped off by a 16-yard rushing touchdown from Eli Whorton. Jacob Norgard converted the two-point conversion to give the Rebels a 20-7 lead with 6:27 left in the third quarter. 

On the ensuing Drive, Hand intercepted Perry on the 34-yard line. Tarver then finished off the drive with a 13-yard rushing touchdown to give Chambers Academy a 26-7 with 4:42 left in the third quarter. 

“Feel like our defense is our strong point,” Hand said. “We really proved that in the second half, especially with those interceptions that we had.” 

Smith has been a big-time playmaker for the Rebels all season and he stepped up again as he caught Perry’s fourth interception of the game and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown. Hand connected with Norgard to convert the two-point conversion and give Chambers Academy a commanding 34-7 lead with 3:49 left in the third quarter. 

“The team, they kept hollering that they needed a big play out of somebody,” Smith said. “I read the screen, it came right to me.” 

Norgard helped the Rebels pile it on as he found the end zone on a 10-yard rushing touchdown to cap off the 68-yard drive. Spencer Newman made the extra point to put the lead at 41-7 with 8:29 left in the game. 

Perry connected with Issiac Smith on a 24-yard touchdown pass as Chambers Academy took the starters out on defense. The extra point left the score at 41-14 with 5:24 left. 

Chambers Academy had several juniors and even underclassmen who made huge impacts this season. However, this group of seniors was special for Allen. 

“These two guys are just phenomenal young men,” Allen said about Hand and Smith. “They played for me their whole careers and believed in me. Just the perfect kind of kids you want to coach. They’ll remember this for the rest of their lives.” 

Smith has been letting anyone who would listen know that he is a dominant player. Before the Glencoe and Patrician Game, Smith promised a big night. Smith made that promise again before the state championship and he delivered on every bit of it. 

Smith was emotional on the sideline as the game clock got closer to zero because each moment as a Rebel has meant everything to him. 

“I came to this school in seventh grade to start over, have a new beginning, another school, another coach, a man who believed in me, which was Coach Allen,” Smith said. “Seeing those final minutes go off the clock, it really meant a lot to know that I started and got my own ring. It meant the world.” 

The game completely changed in the third quarter. It was a quarter that put a stamp on the Rebels’ season and made the team AISA 2A state champions. 

“That was the longest third quarter I’ve ever been involved in, but it was a really fun third quarter,” Allen said. 

Over the course of his long coaching career, Allen has had more than one stop. Allen has spent 19 years as Chambers Academy’s coach and nowhere else has ever felt more like home. 

“We’ve got some great kids at this school, and they believe in us and what we do,” Allen said. “In 26 years, I’ve only won my last game three times. You want to win your last game, and I’m just really proud of our community.”