Blessed Trinity 28, Westminster 0
A year ago, Blessed Trinity running back Steele Chambers’ mom encouraged him to get involved in a dance class to improve his footwork on the football field.
Chambers rushed for 68 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Titans to a 28-0 season-opening win on Friday at Westminster’s Alfred E. Thompson Stadium.
The win avenged an overtime loss to the Wildcats in the 2015 Class AAA state championship game. While Blessed Trinity coach Tim McFarlin said that game was out of sight and out of mind, Chambers, a freshman on the 2015 team, called the win “emotional.”
“It was an emotional game after two years ago,” Chambers said. “Losing to them in the (Georgia) Dome, we had some guys who were on that team come back to watch tonight, and we really just wanted to get them a win. It was a really good start.”
Chambers scored the first of his three touchdowns with 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter, taking a handoff near the goal line and reaching the end zone to put the Titans, No. 2 in Class AAAA, ahead 7-0. The 2-yard dive capped a drive on which Chambers carried six times for 29 yards.
A close contest began to slip away from Westminster, ranked No. 5 in Class AAA to start the season, when it turned the ball over on the very next drive. Wildcats quarterback Ward Croft moved the pocket to his left after a snap out of the shotgun, turned back the other direction and tried to hit a receiver on the far hash. Instead, Titans junior linebacker J.R. Bivens stepped in front of the pass for the interception.
Four plays later, Blessed Trinity was back in the end zone. This time it was a 4-yard run by Chambers, who had made up the bulk of the yards the play before with a 21-yard run around the right tackle.
Chambers’ last touchdown came midway through the third quarter, another 4-yard score that capped the Titans’ scoring at 28-0. Chambers moved the Titans near the goal line on a nifty 10-yard run from the Westminster 15, taking a toss to the left and hitting a wall of defenders before changing directions, hurdling a defender and finally going down at the 5-yard line. Two plays later, he mimicked that play, again going left on a toss, hitting a wall, and changing directions for the score.
“I really have a lot of confidence in my line,” said Chambers, who claims a number of major college offers. “I didn’t know what to expect after we lost the entire offensive line from last year, but they really showed a lot tonight.”
McFarlin echoed those sentiments.
“My big concern tonight was that we had so many new guys playing,” he said. “I’m thrilled about the growth these guys showed. It’s one ballgame, but I’m extremely proud of that line.”
He listed a number of other players who caught his eye, like junior Ryan Davis, whose Superman-dive in the second quarter resulted in a 37-yard catch that put Blessed Trinity deep in Westminster territory. That drive ended, of course, in a Chambers touchdown run.
He also lauded the performance of junior quarterback Jake Smith, who finished 7-of-9 for 162 yards and a touchdown pass. That scoring strike was an 80-yard pass up the seam to senior Will Carlton.
His defense played a complete game, as well, holding Westminster to 171 total yards, intercepting two passes — one each from Davis and Bivens — and making two fourth-down stands inside the 5-yard line to preserve a shutout.
“This was a big game, but it was just one game,” McFarlin said. “This was about us stepping out and getting better, and I think we did that tonight.”
Next Friday, Westminster returns to action at Greater Atlanta Christian, and Blessed Trinity hosts St. Pius X.