After Edgewood and Chambers battled in a back-and-forth regular season meeting last month, the AISA-AA semifinal between the two teams was expected to be more of the same. However, it took just four plays to set the tone for the rest of the night and Chambers took advantage of a quick start to run away with a 51-20 victory, ending Edgewood’s season just short of Troy for the third straight season.
The Wildcats (7-4) nearly fumbled away the opening kickoff and was stuck with bad field position to start its first drive. On the second play from scrimmage, Chambers recovered a loose ball after Edgewood running back Mitchell Boyd got injured and fumbled the ball. The Rebels scored on their first offensive play, added a two-point conversion and the lead never got any closer for the rest of the night.
“They came in and made a point to run the football,” Edgewood coach Chad Michael said. “They wanted to show how physical they are and how good they are up front and they did that. You can’t take anything away from them. They outplayed us (Friday night).”
Chambers (11-1) finished with six touchdowns on the ground, three each from Payton Allen and TY Trammell. The two also connected for a touchdown pass on the first play of the second half to end any hopes of an Edgewood comeback.
As quarterback, Allen threw for 212 yards on just nine completions but he did most of his damage on designed runs, finishing with 162 yards and three scores on 21 carries. Chambers finished with 380 rushing yards.
“They did a great job of getting numbers on us,” Michael said. “They used their formations and some shifts to overload one side and get us outnumbered on that side of the ball. That allowed the quarterback to run on us.”
After the turnover to start the game, Edgewood drove down the field but missed a field goal attempt on its second drive which allowed Chambers to get the ball back, eventually doubling its lead just six minutes into the game. The Wildcats fought back though, moving the ball quickly back into the red zone where Bradley Boone capped off the drive with a 19-yard touchdown run.
That was the extent of Edgewood’s rushing attack for most of the night as the Wildcats were forced to turn to the air raid because of the growing deficit on the scoreboard plus the injuries affecting the backfield.
“We got thin real quick,” Michael said. “Mitchell went out with an injury and Blaine (Guthrie) was dealing with his own injury so we didn’t want to use him at running back. That’s part of the game and that’s part of football. Our kids continued to fight but we just got a little thin back there.”
Edgewood finished with just 39 yards on 18 carries with Boone picking up 33 of those on his five attempts.
Alex Johnson was forced to throw the ball more and he delivered several deep balls to help bring some excitement to the traveling Edgewood fans. Johnson finished with 245 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Trevor Rodie and Dawson Owens.
“They were bringing more guys than we could block,” Michael said. “They were running some cover zero and forcing us to throw the ball. We hit some plays on them and Alex did a great job. He fought to the end. I’m really proud of how he and the rest of the seniors played and represented Edgewood (Friday night).”
The defeat marked the third straight season Edgewood’s year finishes one win shy of the AISA championships in Troy. The Wildcats want to focus on the positives strides they took this year but Michael admitted it may take some time to see the big picture.
“When we look back on this, I think we will be able to see that we had some good wins and played some really good football teams,” Michael said. “We wanted more and it’s going to hurt for a couple of weeks but I think we will look back to see we had a very successful season.”