Coach turns loss into lessen

Published 12:30 am Wednesday, September 13, 2023

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

In a highly-anticipated matchup between two regional football powerhouses, the Chambers Academy Rebels and the Crenshaw Christian Academy Cougars (CCA), the Rebels came out on top with a commanding 41-14 victory. 

Despite the loss, CCA head coach Brandon  Burleson remained optimistic, emphasizing the valuable learning experience the game provided for his team. He commended his players for their resilience and fighting spirit, noting that they did not back down, even when facing a substantial halftime deficit.

Email newsletter signup

“We knew Chambers would be one of our toughest opponents this season,” Burleson said. “Although the guys were able to overcome some slow starts earlier this year, this was a good time to learn that we can’t overcome a slow start against a really good team.”

Chambers Academy came into the game holding fifth position in the state rankings and leading their region with a 2-1 record. Crenshaw Christian Academy entered the matchup with an undefeated 3-0 record, leading their own region. 

The game got underway with the Cougars winning the toss and opting to receive the ball. 

What followed the Rebel’s kick-off from the north end zone of Cougar Field was a first-half display of dominance by the Rebels who took control from the outset. The Rebel defense proved impenetrable, allowing CCA only one first down throughout the entire first half.

The Rebels went on a scoring spree in the first two quarters, amassing a commanding 35-0 lead by halftime.

During the third quarter, Crenshaw Christian Academy managed to get on the board with a touchdown by Grant Taylor. A successful two-point conversion to Drake Mills brought the Cougars’ total to eight points, trailing Chambers Academy 41-8 with 4:17 left in the third quarter.

Chambers No.14 kicked off for the Rebels to start the second half, and the returner evaded multiple would-be tacklers before stepping out of bounds. However, a penalty was called against the Rebels for an illegal block, pushing them back inside the 10-yard line for a first and 10. 

The Rebels went on to dominate the game, leaving a final score of Chambers 41, Crenshaw Christian 14.

Following the game, Burleson shared his thoughts on the contest and acknowledged that Chambers Academy had proven to be a formidable opponent in recent years and praised their execution. 

“We had a game plan, but the Rebels executed exceptionally well on their end,” Burleson said. “Despite the score, I’m proud of how our guys kept fighting and didn’t give up. Even though we were behind when the second half started, they didn’t lay down and quit. They kept fighting and gave it their all. So, I’m as happy as you can be when it comes to a loss and we will use this game as a learning experience to become stronger in the long run.”

The coach also expressed gratitude for the unwavering support the team receives from the local community. He noted that the community’s support, both during and after the game, plays a crucial role in maintaining the players’ spirits and motivation.

As a newcomer to CCA, Burleson expressed his appreciation for the warm welcome he has received from the community. He emphasized the support he has received from the school board, parents and the community at large, allowing him the freedom to implement his coaching strategies without undue scrutiny. 

“I feel like that the community has really welcomed me in and even given me the freedom to do my own thing without many past comparisons and I am very appreciative of that and as a new coach, I don’t feel like I am under the microscope,” Burleson said. “I feel at home and that I am very supported by the board all the way down to the parents. We know there’s going to be growing pains and everything can’t be perfect, and everyone is very understanding of that and supportive of helping me find whatever gaps we may have in the program that need to be filled.”

While the outcome may not have been in CCA’s favor, the team’s determination and the support of their community continue to be sources of inspiration as they look ahead to future challenges on the gridiron.

Burleson praised the coaching staff’s dedication in getting to work right away preparing for the next challeng, emphasizing the importance of maximizing opportunities to develop the players’ talents.The Cougars travel to face Wilcox on Sept. 15.