Championship Bound: Chambers Academy punches its ticket to Montgomery
Published 11:40 pm Thursday, November 9, 2023
Chambers Academy punched their ticket to the state championship in Montgomery on Thursday night as the Rebels dismantled Patrician Academy 38-2.
“It feels good,” Chambers Academy coach Jason Allen said. “We came up just short the last two years in the semifinals on this field. I thought it was great for our kids, our community and just really proud of our kids and the season we’ve had so far.”
The first half started out in disastrous fashion for Chambers Academy. After a three-and-out on the Rebels’ first offensive drive, Garrett Lewis blocked Spencer Newman’s punt out of the back of the end zone to give the Saints a 2-0 lead with 6:18 left in the first quarter.
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The rest of the first half was all Chambers Academy. After forcing a punt on defense, the Rebels drove 90 yards capped off by Jacob Norgard’s 35-yard rushing touchdown. Norgard converted the two-point conversion, and Chambers Academy took an 8-2 lead with 2:09 left in the first quarter.
“We did not get off to a great start,” Allen said. “They had a great defensive gameplan. It took us a while to figure out what they were doing. We felt like we were better than them. We just had to flip the page, and I thought we did.”
Luke Tarver helped the Rebels pour it on as he took off for a 60-yard rushing touchdown. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful, but Chambers Academy led 14-2 with 10:41 left in the second quarter.
Norgard set the Rebels up at the six-yard-line after a 79-yard rush. Two plays later, Chambers Academy botched a pitch to the outside and Patrician took over at their own 12.
The Saints could not capitalize on the momentum as they punted it back to Chambers Academy. Norgard found the end zone again on a 24-yard rushing touchdown. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful, but the Rebels held a 20-2 lead with 1:35 left in the second quarter.
Chambers Academy kept their foot on the gas early on in the second half. After a 37-yard rush from Norgard, Tarver punched it in from two yards out. After the failed two-point conversion, the Rebels led 26-2 with 10:22 left in the third quarter.
Tarver found the end zone one more time on a seven-yard rushing touchdown to cap off the 58-yard drive. After the extra point was missed, Chambers Academy led 32-2 with 2:57 left in the third quarter.
Tarver and Norgard have been the one-two that has helped the Rebels get to this point. Norgard had missed the previous two games, but he came out on fire tonight. The two combined for five touchdowns on Thursday.
“Luke is our dude, but Norgard came in and he looked like lightning in a bottle,” Allen said. “He had his hair on fire. He was just running at a different speed.”
Chambers Academy added one final score as Tyson Hewett found the end zone on a seven-yard rush.
The Rebels came into the season with one goal in mind, to win the state championship. Few players came into Thursday with more motivation than Ryan Smith. Smith was one of the few players on the team that played when Chambers Academy played for a state title in 2020.
“A lot of emotion was going into this game,” Smith said. “Wanted to come out and put on for the city and put out for everyone that I love.”
On the other side, Patrician brought Alabama commit Jay Lindsey. Smith wanted to prove that he could compete at the next level, and he did that and more on Thursday.
“This is my team, I want to go out here and prove a point,” Smith said. “I feel like I proved my point that I can belong. I can go to the next level and play at Division I.”
Chambers Academy will celebrate this win for a night, and then they will go right back to business as the team prepares to face Banks Academy at the Cramton Bowl next Thursday at 4 p.m. CST. The Rebels beat Banks Academy 67-18 earlier this season.
“We’ll get ready to go tomorrow and start getting ready for the state championship,” Allen said. “It won’t be the same. They’ve got a couple of kids they didn’t have that night. Play somebody the second time, it’s always harder.”