Rebels roll over Ashford for first win

The Chambers Rebels finally answered the calls of their coach to play a more physical game. And like Coach Jason Allen said, it led them to a win.

Chambers bounced back from two straight losses to open the season and picked up their first win of the season 28-11 on Friday night against Ashford Academy here in LaFayette. The Rebels improved to 1-2-1 on the season but more importantly evened up their Region 1 record at 1-1.

“We played with a more physical edge, both defensively and offensively,” Allen said. “We had more people around the ball, more gang tackling and more intensity on defense. And we ran the ball hard and really opened up our offense.”

It was that offense that set the pace for Chambers, scoring in every quarter and nearly equaling their points total through the three previous games (29). That surge came as a result of the Rebels progressing in Allen’s system. “We went no huddle and tried to gas them a little and take advantage of that,” he said. “The kids really enjoyed it and we got in sync there a little bit. We’re starting to find our identity now.”

Chambers’ ground attack was punishing as the Rebels piled up 326 yards on 42 attempts. Corey Bolt bruised his way to 162 yards on 24 carries with one score, while Quadarius Tinsley’s three touchdowns came on a day when he rushed 13 times for 79 yards.

Quarterback Cord Dodgen threw for 42 yards, completing two-of-six pass attempts. Tae Henry caught one of those passes for 32 yards and Bolt had the other for 10 yards.

It was the Rebels first full game without senior lineman and linebacker Zac Slay who was lost last week, likely for the season, with a leg injury. And though he was on crutches on the sideline, he still provided a boost. “We rallied around him,” Allen said, “and we played that game for him.”

With the first win now in the book, Allen and the Rebels plan to do what they can to get a winning streak going and the next step comes this week when Meadowview comes to town Friday night. They will have a good chance to do so against a struggling Trojan team that has started the season 0-3 including a 13-12 loss to Eastwood Memorial last week. Those 12 points are the only points Meadowview has scored this year.

Allen isn’t as concerned about the Trojan’s problems as he is about his team in general. For him, the key this week, just like every other week, is to get better. “This week we’re looking for improvement,” he says. “We still pretty early in this whole process of changing offenses, so it’s going to take some time.”

There is a revenge factor in this game as Meadowview pounded the Rebels 67-7 last year in Selma and the Trojans have won seven of the nine meetings between the two teams.

Allen and his Rebels will try to add one to their side of the win column this Friday here at Tolbert Field. Kickoff is set for 7 pm CST.

*For full story see this week’s edition of The Sun*

September 18, 2013 | Posted in: Prep, Sports | Comments Closed

LaFayette falls short of first win

LaFayette fell heartbreakingly short of their first win on Friday night against region rival Randolph County here in LaFayette. After leading the entire contest, the Bulldogs gave up a last minute touchdown to the Tigers and would fall 28-22.

The Dogs remained winless on the year falling to 0-3 with the loss. It also dropped their region mark to 0-2, putting them in an early hole in their quest for a playoff spot.

Special teams are what kept the Bulldogs ahead most of the contest as only one of their scores came on the offensive side of the ball. They continued to show encouraging signs on defense, creating two turnovers, but weren’t put in very good position by their inefficient offense.

Cordeski Floyd was the star for LaFayette in the first half, returning two kickoffs 80-yards for touchdowns. His first came in the first quarter and gave LaFayette a 7-0 lead.

Later in the first the Dogs’ offense came up big when quarterback Kentrel Holloway connected with Quen Whitlow for a thrilling 91-yard touchdown pass to put LaFayette up 14-0.

Randolph County finally answered with their first score early in the second quarter, but Floyd struck again. His second kickoff return gave LaFayette what looked like a commanding 22-7 lead.

But the Tigers capitalized on a few mental mistakes by the Bulldogs to tighten that gap before halftime. The LHS defense that had been strong all night gave up two long pass plays and Randolph County would score twice before the break to cut their deficit to 22-20 going into the break.
The score stayed at 22-20 after the third quarter and was that way for most of the fourth. But Randolph County got one final try on offense as the clock wound down.

On that final drive they converted on a big third down and benefited from a facemask penalty to move into the red zone. Then, with under a minute to play, the Tigers finally found the endzone on a six-yard run. Their lead was 28-22 after a two-point conversion. There simply wasn’t enough time for the Bulldogs to mount a drive to answer.

“I think we had too much success early, if that makes sense,” LHS Coach Dialleo Burks said. “We have a young team that hasn’t seen much success yet and we let our guard down after we got a good lead.

“The guys came out in the first half focused and ready to play. We definitely started faster which was a nice improvement, but we let it get away from us. We had some missed assignments and gave up some big plays, and let them gain the momentum.”

LaFayette finished the game with 166 yards through the air and 106 on the ground. Holloway completed 13-of-27 pass attempts. Most of his 166 yards came on the long pass touchdown pass to Quen Whitlow. Mitchell Ross caught three passes for 39 yards and Jartarvious Whitlow caught three passes for 21 yards.

Okoye Williams led the Bulldog’s rushing attack with 40 yards on 11 carries.

Rasheed Williams led the Bulldogs defense with eight tackles. Dimitric Wright had a strong night with four tackles, including two for a loss, and an interception. Floyd also intercepted a pass and had three tackles.

After three tough games to start the season, the Bulldogs will get a good chance to get back on track this week when they make a visit to Prattville to take on Prattville Christian Academy. It’s just the second season in the AHSAA for the winless Panthers. They finished their first season with a 2-8 record including a 54-21 loss to LaFayette.

Prattville may provide the Bulldogs a good opportunity to find an offensive rhythm as they have allowed 109 points through three games, including a 41-20 loss to region foe Isabella last week.

Friday’s game will be the first of three consecutive road games for the Bulldogs; kickoff is set for 7 pm CST in Prattville.

*For full story see this week’s edition of The Sun*

Rebels can’t keep up with Abbeville

For the second straight week, Chambers Academy coach Jason Allen noticed that his team is lacking the physical style they showed in the opener against Springwood. And for the second straight week, it cost them.

Chambers dropped their second contest of the year on Friday 35-7 to a strong Abbeville Christian team on the road. The Rebels turned the ball over three times in the game and amassed just 153 total yards of offense. They ran for 97 yards and had 56 through the air, a chunk of which came on their late touchdown pass.

“We are not playing a physical style of football that we have to play in order to win,” Allen said. “In order to win we have to be the most physical team every Friday night.

“I was disappointed in that and I have to do a better job of getting these guys ready. They have to understand that the game is won blocking and tackling, it has always been that way and it always will.”

Abbeville imposed their will early and often against the Rebels. They scored three touchdowns in the first quarter, and then once more before halftime to take a 28-0 lead into the break. For the most part, CA’s offense was ineffective. It didn’t help that key senior lineman Zac Slay went down in the first with leg injury and never returned. And to make matters worse, Slay will likely miss the remainder of the season with a broken leg.

The Generals would score once more in the third quarter to up their lead to 35-0 before calling off the dogs.

The Rebels lone score came late in the fourth when quarterback Cord Dodgen connected with Quadarius Tinsley for a 25-yard touchdown pass.

*For full story see this week’s edition of The Sun

September 11, 2013 | Posted in: Prep, Sports | Comments Closed

No. 6 Lanett tops LaFayette

What started out in a stalemate ended in a blowout as LaFayette fell to No. 6 Lanett 33-14 on Friday night in Bulldog Stadium. Scoring was scarce over the first 24 minutes, thanks to a combination of good defense and a load of mistakes. Penalties and turnovers highlighted a long first half that saw the Panthers take a 13-6 edge. But Lanett turned things around in the second half, in large part because of a strong running attack, to outscore the Bulldogs 20-8 over the final 24 minutes.

The teams combined for more than 30 penalties on Friday night, many of which were drive-killers, especially in the first half. LaFayette had more mishaps on special teams this week and had multiple turnovers in the loss.

Lanett looked like they would strike quickly, taking their opening drive into the redzone, but after two penalties, they faced a long fourth down. The drive ended when LaFayette’s Dimitric Wright grabbed an interception.

Cordeski Floyd caught a long screen pass on the Bulldogs ensuing drive and took it all the way inside the Lanett 10 yard line. But LaFayette stalled and gave the ball back to the Panthers on downs.

The teams would exchange punts, before Lanett mounted another drive. Inside the Bulldog 10 yard line, the Panthers committed two more costly penalties and eventually turned the ball over on downs. LaFayette, however, would quickly gave the ball back by throwing an interception.

From there Lanett’s Marlon Bridges took a handoff up the middle 44 yards for the game’s first score with 5:36 left in the first half, giving the Panthers a 7-0 lead.

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Bulldog mistakes costly in loss to Indians

The Dialleo Burks era at LaFayette High School got off to a less than auspicious start on Friday night in Loachapoka. His Bulldogs committed three turnovers and totaled 17 penalties in a 19-0 loss in the season opener.

To be fair, LaFayette wasn’t the only team on the field with first game jitters. The Indians turned the ball over five times and were flagged for 11 penalties. The difference was Loachapoka’s ability to capitalize on LaFayette’s mistakes.

“There were lots of mental mistakes,” Burks said. “Seventeen penalties, six dripped passes, a dropped interception and a muffed punt. When you count all of that up it could have been a lot worse. Our defense played well but our offense had trouble trusting each other and our young quarterback lost confidence with the dropped balls.”

The night wasn’t a total disaster for LaFayette. But while the Bulldog defense was solid, they were continuously put in bad position by their offense and special teams units. The Indians started on the Bulldog 2-yard line and on their 46-yard line in their second quarter scoring drives.

The Bulldog offense managed just five first downs in the game and totaled just 105-yards.

The game was delayed and nearly cancelled after a lightning strike forced the teams off the field in the first quarter. Over an hour later, play finally resumed. The first points from Loachapoka came on a 15-yard pass with 18 seconds to play in the first quarter.

Mistakes set the stage for the Indians next two scores. Just before halftime, the Bulldogs fumbled a snap on a punt from deep in their territory, giving Loachapoka first and goal from the LaFayette 2-yard line. One play later, the Indians were in the endzone to increase their lead to 13-0.

Trying to get on the board before the half, LaFayette tried one last drive. But it ended abruptly when Bulldogs quarterback Kentrel Holloway was picked off. The Indians returned it to the 46-yard line and were in the endzone three plays later thanks to an eight-yard run. Loachapoka had a 19-0 lead with 34 seconds to play in the half.

Neither team would sniff the endzone in the second half.

The Bulldogs’ penalties cost them 107 yards and they gained just 15 yards in the second half.

*For full story see this week’s edition of The Sun*

September 4, 2013 | Posted in: Prep, Sports | Comments Closed

Crenshaw runs past Chambers

One week after raising expectations in their opener with Springwood, Chambers Academy stumbled in a big way in their match-up with 2A Crenshaw Christian on Friday night. The Rebels took an early 7-0 lead after the first quarter, but that was about the only positive on the night. The Cougars were nearly unstoppable the rest of the way and outscored CA 43-3 in the final three quarters for a 43-10 win.

“I was really disappointed in how we competed,” CA Coach Jason Allen said. “Our guys just didn’t play at the level we have been playing and that is my fault. We have been physical all preseason but we were definitely not the more physical team on Friday.

“We took a step backward but we can’t dwell on it. We’re going to fix it.”

The Rebels looked sharp early in the contest. They held Crenshaw’s powerful running attack in check then got on the board first when quarterback Cord Dodgen connected with Quadarius Tinsley for an 80-yard touchdown pass with just over three minutes to play in the first quarter. Corey Bolt’s extra point kick gave CA a 7-0 lead.

The momentum started to swing a few minutes into the second quarter when Crenshaw capped a 15-play drive with an 11-yard touchdown run. Their two-point conversion gave them an 8-7 lead with 8:19 to play in the half. They would never give that lead away.

After holding CA on the ensuing possession, the Cougars struck quickly, scoring on an 85-yard run on their first snap. They led 16-7 after another conversion with 6:42 until halftime.

Crenshaw increased the lead to 22-7 after a 35-yard touchdown pass with less than two minutes to play in the quarter.

It looked like Chambers had an answer this time and were driving thanks to a long catch by Tinsley that set the Rebels up in Crenshaw territory. However, Tinsley received a big hit on the play and left the game with a concussion and didn’t return. CA’s offense stalled, and it would for the rest of the night. They were able to add a few more points as the half expired when Bolt connected on a 30-yard field goal to cut the lead to 22-10. But Chambers wouldn’t get any closer.

Crenshaw scored 21 unanswered points in the second half. The first came on a 13-yard run just minutes into the third. After a Chambers fumble, they scored again to make it 35-10 then added the final touchdown of the night after another CA turnover with 3:08 to play in the third.

The final points of the game came courtesy of a safety with 4:18 to play.

*For full story see this week’s edition of The Sun*

Chambers and Springwood battle to a 14-14 tie

Corey Bolt (32) drags a host of Springwood defenders as he pushes for extra yards.

Corey Bolt (32) drags a host of Springwood defenders as he pushes for extra yards.

It’s going to be another year before bragging rights can be claimed in the cross-county rivalry between Chambers Academy and Springwood School. The two teams battled to a 14-14 tie in their meeting this past Thursday to open the 2013 season. It’s the first time in the rivalry’s history that no winner has been decided.

The unease of the tie was more bearable in large part because both teams had suffered through abysmal one-win seasons in 2012. For them and for both fans, Thursday night provided a night of competitive football that had been lacking for the past year.

“It didn’t feel like we had anything to gain from it (finishing the game),” Chambers Academy Coach Jason Allen said. “Everyone was getting tired and we wanted them to get ready for next week. I feel like there is a better chance of getting someone injured when they are tired like that. And it was a good situation for both teams because no one lost.”

It looked like no one would lose for most of the time, as the game was scoreless at the half. But in the second half, Chambers took control and finally put points on the board after coming so close in the first half. From that point, both offenses came to life and it appeared that the team with the last possession would win. That team was Springwood and they almost pulled off a heartbreaking comeback. But with the game on the line, Chambers’ defense stepped up to keep the Wildcats out of the endzone as time expired.

It was then that Allen and Springwood Coach Thomas Hill met at midfield and quickly decided that was enough.

After a scoreless first half, Chambers mounted their most impressive drive of the night on their first possession. Relying on the legs of Corey Bolt and Quadarius Tinsley, the Rebels marched down the field. They converted on a fourth and one at the Springwood 25 to keep the drive alive. Then two plays later, Tinsley found the endzone on a 12 yard run off right tackle. Bolt’s extra point kick was good and with 4:50 left in the third, CA had a 7-0 lead.

Two plays later, Chambers had the ball back after Tinsley intercepted a Wildcat pass at midfield. Two first downs later, the Rebels had a first down at the Springwood 11 yard line and seemed to be in complete control.

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August 28, 2013 | Posted in: Prep, Sports | Comments Closed

Area teams begin practice for 2013 football season

Football is finally back. Both local teams, LaFayette High School and Chambers Academy, have hit the practice field for the first time as they prepare for the start of the 2013 season.

Chambers Academy players take a water break at practice on Monday.

Chambers Academy players take a water break at practice on Monday.

CA and LHS both bring new looks into this season, with former head coach Jason Allen returning to his alma mater at Chambers and first year head coach and former pro player Dialleo Burks leading LaFayette High. Both men have brought a renewed excitement and intensity to their respective squads and expectations are understandably high heading into the first practices.

Allen and the Rebels officially hit the practice field for the first time on Thursday in shells. They began practicing in full pads on Tuesday. Burks and the Bulldogs were officially allowed to begin practice on Monday and they will have their first day in pads on Thursday.

Allen is hoping to return the Rebels to the top of the AISA mountain after an abysmal 1-9 campaign last year. He returns to CA after a successful stint at Glenwood and brings with him a fast paced offense and more than a decade of head coaching experience.

His biggest challenge will be handling a team that lacks depth. But what the Rebels lack in numbers, they make up for in desire. These players remember what happened last year and they are ready to put it in the past.

LaFayette players run gassers as part of their Ironman Competition that completed their summer training program.

LaFayette players run gassers as part of their Ironman Competition that completed their summer training program.

“That’s something I can’t complain about,” Allen says about his team’s enthusiasm. “Everybody has really bought in to what we are trying to do here.”

He’ll have to get to work quickly, though, as the Rebels kick off their season in just over two weeks. They open on Thursday, August 22 at home against bitter rival Springwood. Allen and the Rebels know that an opening win against the cross county Wildcats would be a huge emotional boost to begin the season and they are showing that with their intensity in practice so far.

As for LaFayette and their first year coach, there is no lack of enthusiasm there either. For a team that lost nearly a dozen critical players from last years’ squad, the Bulldogs are intensely focused. Burks has this team ready to play, as evidence by their off-season training program.

“We had more than 30 players at workouts every day,” Burks says. That’s something some of his assistants say hasn’t been the case in the past. The drive is there and the work ethic is there for this Bulldogs team.

That was certainly the case last week, as the team concluded their summer program with an Ironman Contest. The three-day event included competitions in weight training, agility drills, the 40-yard dash and conditioning drills. The excitement was palpable for the Bulldogs as they competed to be the best, while at the same time encouraged their teammates.

Even as the team grinded through the pain of distance sprints called gassers, the young men remained focused and enthused, something that may have been lacking in years past. The reason for that is clearly Burks, who is effectively bringing his years of high school, college and professional football experience to the athletes of LaFayette.

“This team is more together than any I have ever been around,” he says. But in reality, the reason for that bond may be the new coach on the sidelines. He has brought this team together, and each has bought into his philosophy. So while there may have been low expectations after the departure of so many important seniors last season, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Burks has the Bulldogs focused of achieving and they believe they can do it. They’ll find out on August 30 when they go face the winningest coach in Lee County Jerome Tate and the Loachapoka Indians in the season opener.

August 7, 2013 | Posted in: Prep, Sports | Comments Closed

Chambers Academy adds volleyball

Deven Still practices spiking the ball during one of CA's "open gym" sessions.

Deven Still practices spiking the ball during one of CA’s “open gym” sessions.

There’s a new sport coming to town. For the first time in school history, Chambers Academy will field a girls’ volleyball team. Under the guidance of Coach Kayla Black, members of the team have already begun testing their ability in an “open gym” setting. “Open gym” is not mandatory, but allows Black and the players to go over basic skills of the game, which will be vital for this first year team. According to Black, the team is actively involved in conditioning as well.

Official practice will begin on July 18 and the season takes place from August to October.

In the final week before official practice starts, there are 12 girls on the team, though more could be added when school begins in August.

Black was responsible for organizing the team based on requests from students as well as her own background in the sport. Before joining the CA staff last year, she was the coach for the Columbus Juniors Volleyball Club in Columbus and participated in work-study in the volleyball office at LaGrange College while an undergrad there and has given private lessons for six years. In addition, she served as the recruiting coordinator and a graduate assistant coach for the Lagrange College swim team.

Black has an impressive resume on the field as she lettered in volleyball and lacrosse at LaGrange College after a high school career that also included basketball and softball. She was a four-year starter in volleyball at LaGrange as a setter and ranks fourth all-time on the school’s career assists list and tenth in career aces. “Athletics is my passion,” she says. “It is just something that comes natural to me and it is something I cannot envision myself not coaching on some level.”

For Black, this is an opportunity to share her knowledge with young athletes as well as open new doors for them. “This is another opportunity for some of our athletes to shine in a new sport,” she says, “and I would love to see more of our athletes be recruited to continue their career on the collegiate level.”

As for the Rebel team, there’s a lot to learn for this group. Many have never played the game, and none have done so on an organized level. But Black is confident in her coaching and the ability of the team.

“I see this team shocking some people this year,” Black says. “Our female athletes at Chambers Academy are extremely talented so I have no doubt that we will be able to be successful in taking on a new sport.”

The team will have appropriate settings as well; a new volleyball setup was constructed in the school gymnasium over the summer in anticipation of the new sport.


July 10, 2013 | Posted in: Prep, Sports | Comments Closed

LaFayette hosts NFL HSPD Skills Camp

A 7-on-7 team from LaFayette plays one from Valley High while other look on during LHS’s NFL HSPD skills camp last week. LaFayette, Valley and Russell County’s varsity and junior high teams all took part in the camp.

A 7-on-7 team from LaFayette plays one from Valley High while other look on during LHS’s NFL HSPD skills camp last week. LaFayette, Valley and Russell County’s varsity and junior high teams all took part in the camp.

LaFayette High School hosted a two-day NFL High School Player Development (HSPD) skills camp last week at Bulldog Stadium. The HSPD aims to develop productive members of society as well as good football players, according to the organizations website. They use the newest techniques and instruction from a wide range of colleges and high schools and look to constantly improve the fundamentals of the game.

In addition to LaFayette High, varsity and junior varsity teams from Valley High School and Russell County High School were on hand to participate and each squad was split into two units for drills.

First year LaFayette coach Diaello Burks organized the camp which included 7-on-7 passing drills and games for skill players and a newly introduced lineman skills challenge.

Since linemen don’t have a roll in the 7-on-7 games, they instead participated in agility drills and on improving quickness and power. The skill players took part in several passing drills and concluded the camp with a 7-on-7 tournament. Valley (team 1) placed first in the varsity tournament, while Russell County won the junior varsity bracket.

“I thought it went very well,” Burks said. “It was a productive camp and allowed us to get a good look at a lot of different people on our team. It’s great because it gave us a chance to go against other teams, because it can get boring going against the same people over and over throughout the summer.”

The National Guard, a sponsor of the HSPD program, had a presence at the event. They had several displays including a football toss and obstacle course, and representatives spoke to the athletes.

Burks said the Bulldogs next camp could come soon. They are making plans to attend a similar camp at Russell County on July 11th. In the meantime, LaFayette will continue their off-season strength and conditioning program.

July 3, 2013 | Posted in: Prep, Sports | Comments Closed