Jacob Norgard’s comeback performance

Published 11:24 am Wednesday, November 15, 2023

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Chambers Academy dominated Patrician Academy in the semifinals winning 38-2 to advance to the state championship. A large part of that dominating win is thanks to the return of a dynamic playmaker at running back. 

Jacob Norgard missed the Rebels’ first-round game against Escambia Academy. On Thursday, Norgard returned and rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries.

Going into the week, Norgard told the coaches that he was ready to step up and have a big game when the team needed him. 

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“I remember telling Coach [Kyle] Jackson all week, as soon as I come back, I’m ready to go and I’m going to do good,” Norgard said. “I was going to show out, and I think that’s what I did.” 

Norgard has missed three games this season, but no game was as tough as missing the first-round playoff game. Still, his teammates made up for the absence, and Norgard was there to encourage them through every part of the big win. 

“It was tough, but I just kept my head up and I was glad to see us win,” Norgard said. 

Adding Norgard back into the mix could not have come at a better time for Chambers Academy. Now, the coaching staff has two healthy running backs to carry the load going into the state championship this Thursday against Banks Academy. 

“That’s a huge lift for us because he’s got another gear,” Chambers Academy coach Jason Allen said. “When he breaks the line of scrimmage, he just really pours the gas on. He can get up and get going in a hurry.” 

Norgard and his partner in the backfield have been dynamic this season. Norgard has totaled 979 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns this season. Luke Tarver has totaled 1,571 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns. 

The two running backs provide very different looks for Chambers Academy’s offense. Tarver is the bruiser, he runs through defenders and makes it hard for one guy to tackle him. Norgard adds another level of speed in the backfield, and he is able to outrun anybody on the defense. 

“Just more straight-line speed,” Allen said. “Luke is a little more of a tackle breaker, shifty guy. Jacob can just flat out pick them up and put them down.” 

Having both Norgard and Tarver at full strength ensures that the Rebels are going to have all of their offensive firepower ready for Thursday’s game. 

“When we’ve been at our best is when those guys can compliment each other,” Allen said. “Our front just blocks really well. You don’t have to give those guys much of a crease. They get downhill, they do the rest.” 

Norgard and Tarver have combined to be one of the best backfields in the state this season. Moving forward the duo could have an even bigger impact after Thursday. 

“I think we’re the best in the state,” Norgard said. “Not being cocky or anything, but I think we’re the best in the state.” 

As the season has gone on, the coaching staff has trusted Norgard with the ball more and more. Norgard believes that the offensive line has helped to make him and Tarver improve this season. Norgard has also helped himself to gain the trust of the coaching staff by showing out each day in practice. 

“I really think it’s just our offensive line doing so good,” Norgard said. “In practice, I’m getting a lot of reps in practice. I think practice is where the trust comes in because I’m doing better in practice than I was in the previous years.” 

Norgard’s improvement this season has been integral to Chambers Academy getting to this point. Norgard has seen the biggest improvement to his mental processing at running back. 

“Reading holes or where to run the ball to because I was just getting it and running,” Norgard said. “I think my field awareness has gotten better.” 

Throughout his time at Springwood, Allen has constantly encouraged Norgard and helped him to be mentally ready for this breakout season. 

“He’s always told me to keep my head up,” Norgard said. “He told me that I had a bright future ahead of me. He’s always told me that I have a really good chance of being a really good player.” 

The journey to the state championship has been one that many teams at Chambers Academy have done. This season, all of the players and coaches came into the season with their one goal being to win the state championship. 

“It means everything,” Norgard said. “We came here at the start of the summer, and ever since then all we talked about was playing for a state championship.” 

Early on, Chambers Academy suffered a tough loss to Lee-Scott Academy. After that game, each of the players came together and told themselves that it would not happen again. 

“Since the first loss at Lee-Scott, we really just all came together,” Norgard said. “We were like, ‘we don’t want to lose anymore’. That’s not what we do. We don’t lose, and we’re going to win no matter the cost.” 

Norgard came into the season with a statistical goal of hitting 1,000 yards on the ground. Being just 21 yards away, Norgard hopes to surpass that mark on the biggest stage this Thursday.