Kole Baker started as an underdog but put together a prolific senior season

Published 1:39 pm Wednesday, May 15, 2024

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Everybody loves a great underdog story. While his story is very different from several other underdog stories, Kole Baker was the true tale of an unlikely hero during his senior year at Chambers Academy. 

Chambers Academy won its third state championship in school history in 2023, and Baker was the man under center leading the way. Baker was dominant as a senior, but he was not even guaranteed a starting job leading into the season. 

Baker battled with Landon Hand and several other quarterbacks for the starting position after starting at quarterback during his junior year. 

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“Coach [Jason] Allen told me that he was going to give me some competition throughout the summer and fall practice,” Baker said. “He said that competition is always going to make you better. I didn’t really like that he was throwing more guys in there to try and take my spot, but I kind of knew that I had the spot… I didn’t let that stop me. I kept working and did my best at practice every day to make coach proud.” 

The tables turned after Chambers Academy lost its season opener to Lee-Scott. The team still did not have an identity or a defined starting quarterback. 

After that loss, Baker took over the starting job and led the team to 12 straight wins and the 2A state championship. 

“I knew after I got the job that I had to be the leader of the team on and off the field,” Baker said. “Just doing the right things even when nobody’s looking and taking over that position and controlling the team the way it’s supposed to be controlled.” 

The Rebels found their identity after the loss to Lee-Scott. The players came together and knew that they were better than the product that they showed in the first game. 

However, few could have guessed how dominant the Rebels would become after that loss. Chambers Academy had just one of its final 12 games decided by less than three possessions. 

Baker had his own stretch of dominance along the way, passing for 1,663 yards and 13 touchdowns. 

“No sir, I wasn’t surprised at all,” Baker said. “I knew we had the guys to do that, and our team chemistry was better than anybody else. I knew that we were the team to beat throughout the year. Everybody wanted to be us, I’d say.” 

Baker came to the forefront of Chambers Academy’s athletic program as a senior, but he grew up in the program. Baker started at Chambers Academy in kindergarten and has called the school home ever since. 

Growing up at Chambers Academy helped Baker to build some strong bonds. Baker had to overcome several obstacles, but the coaches always believed in him. 

One of the more special moments that capped off his football career came in the championship game. With time winding down, Baker came off the field and was embraced by Chambers Academy football coach Jason Allen. 

“He told me, he said, ‘Kole, I knew you had it in you, but I made you show me,”’ Baker said. “I was proud, I was excited. I was proud of my team.” 

Baker did not stop impacting the Rebels after football season as he also started at second base and spent time on the mound for Chambers Academy’s baseball team. The baseball team had a special season too as the Rebels advanced all the way to the state semifinals. 

Baker was not the headliner for the baseball team, but he did not let that affect the way he led the team or played the game. 

“I didn’t let it phase me. Football has always been my sport I’d say,” Baker said. “I grew up playing baseball, but I knew I wasn’t really going to be the guy on the baseball team. I did what I could. I thought I had a pretty good year at second. I thought this was the best year I’ve had pitching. I was very proud of myself for that.” 

Baker’s senior season was one of the most memorable years in Chambers Academy’s history. Of course, winning a state championship was the best part of his senior season. 

Baker is most proud of the leap he took as an athlete from his junior to senior year. Baker hopes to have left an impact on Chambers Academy and be remembered for his leadership. 

“When people think of me, I hope that they think of a guy that was a good leader,” Baker said. “He had integrity, he always did the right thing.” 

Baker’s time as an athlete came to an end after the Rebels baseball team fell in the semifinals. Baker plans to study civil engineering at Auburn. 

The bonds that Baker built at Chambers Academy are hard to leave behind, and the friendships and Friday nights on the gridiron will always hold a special place in his heart. Baker and the 2024 class wanted to leave a legacy at Chambers Academy. Baker believes they were able to do that because of the chemistry and bond they built.