Jason Allen wins the Valley Times-News Coach of the Year
Published 10:41 am Saturday, November 25, 2023
Chambers Academy started off the season with a tough loss to Lee-Scott Academy. From there, the Rebels rattled off 12 straight wins and took home the AISA 2A state championship and added to the legacy of their legendary head coach.
Jason Allen has led Chambers Academy since 2013. Allen has helped to bring the program three championships and 111 wins during that time period. Another successful season, paired with another state championship, resulted in Allen being named the Valley Times-News Coach of the Year.
Still, amongst all that winning, this season was special.
Email newsletter signup
“I really enjoyed this team,” Allen said. “They just rolled up their sleeves and said we want to be champions. We talked all year about leaving a legacy. They wanted to leave a legacy of being a champion. It was really fun. I thought they got better every week.”
The season that the Rebels had on the field was special. After the eight-point loss to Lee-Scott, Chambers Academy won 11 out of its 12 remaining games by nearly 40 points on average. The Rebels only had one game after Lee-Scott that was decided by one possession, with Chambers Academy beating then-No. 1 Glenwood 20-14.
This season for Chambers Academy was special for so many other reasons outside of football. Several players in the program battled through the loss of loved ones during game weeks. The players quickly became a family and supported those players.
“The kids were just there for them,” Allen said. “Our guys got to see a part of life and grow and mature. Our team grew, and they learned what it was like to serve others.”
For Allen, football is not just a game. Football is full of life lessons, and Allen has worked to make his program a ministry as well.
“We had six kids get baptized this year,” Allen said.
“That was really special. This team just kind of grew closer and closer. I think that’s the most important thing. I think that’s the thing we lose sight of in society. Everything is about wins and losses. At the end of the day, very few of these high school athletes are going to go and play college football. If we’re just trying to teach them that, then I think we’ve failed. We need to keep a bigger eye on what kind of husbands we’re putting out, what kind of fathers, what kind of citizens. That’s what those guys will look back and appreciate a whole lot more than how many football games they won.”
The loss to Lee-Scott at the start of the season stung for each coach and player in the program. With the Warriors moving to the AHSAA, this could be the last matchup between the two teams.
Though that loss stung, it was likely the most important lesson for the team. The loss helped the team to come together as a unit.
“We were just kind of all over the place,” Allen said. “We played four quarterbacks in that game. After that game, we could have gone one or two different ways. We could’ve gone down a path of destruction. I thought we grew from that game.”
Chambers Academy faced Banks Academy twice this season, with the last time being a 41-14 win in the state championship. Allen believes that the first matchup between the two teams helped the Rebels to find their identity.
“We started executing what we were good at,” Allen said. “We built it around our players. We kept our system, but we tapered it to the talent of our players. We really took off from that game.”
After dominating its last eight games, the Rebels finally faced their biggest test when Glenwood traveled to Torbert-Allen Field. The Gators were the No. 1 team in the AISA. Chambers Academy secured a thrilling 20-14 win and announced to the state that the Rebels were a real contender.
“I think that really galvanized our team,” Allen said. “It gave us a belief that if we played well we could beat anybody.”
Over the course of his career, Allen has accumulated 179 wins. Just like his players, he has had several men step up to mentor him along the way.
Stan Pepper is currently the Beulah head softball coach, and he was one of Allen’s mentors early on. Robert Maddox was also one of Allen’s mentors. Maddox coached at Valley for seven years and had stops at Auburn and Lee-Scott.
“The first guy that really helped me a lot was Stan Pepper,” Allen said. “He really showed me a side of football that I had never seen before. Another guy that was a huge factor for me was Robert Maddox. He really helped me a lot, especially on the defensive side of the ball.”
Tom Garrett is currently on Allen’s staff, and Garrett has been one of Allen’s main mentors throughout the current stages of his career.
“He’s been a guiding light for me and kept me grounded,” Allen said.
This season, some of the shining stars on the team were the assistant coaches. Allen gives Dillon NeSmith a lot of the credit for the Rebels’ dominant defense.
“You cannot look at what we did defensively and not give him a ton of credit,” Allen said. “He’s a really good football coach. He’s going to be a really good head coach one day if he chooses to be.”
Kyle Jackson has been one of the staples on Allen’s coaching staff, and Jackson had a huge impact this season.
“He’s been with me from the start,” Allen said. “The way we play on the offensive line, you can’t help but notice that those guys are well coached.”
Allen is not just a Rebel by trade. Before attending Auburn University, Allen was the starting quarterback for Chambers Academy. Allen graduated from Chambers Academy in 1992. Allen has had a few different stops along the way, but nearly 20 of his seasons as a head coach have been as a Rebel, and Chambers Academy has always been his home.
“It just means more when you work there,” Allen said about coaching at his alma mater. “You want to give back to that place that gave to you. It’s home.”
All three of Allen’s state championships have come during his current tenure at Chambers Academy. While successful before, Allen’s return to Chambers Academy in 2013 was different than the two stints he did as a head coach at the school before.
“The first two times, I was more Jason, student [and] player from the community,” Allen said. “I think the third time I came back, I was Coach Allen. I’m indebted to them for allowing me to do what I do and getting out of the way and letting me run my system and program the way I want to run it.”
Allen brought Chambers Academy its first championship in 2018 and then another in 2020. The three seasons are tough to pick between, but this season’s team is without a doubt going to be remembered long after Allen and the current players are gone.
“I really can’t tell which one is more special,” Allen said. “It’s really gratifying to win your last game. I told the guys before the game, this is the last chapter of your book. I asked them how they wanted it to read. I think they took that to heart.”