There’s been a lot of talk, all summer, about what the Chambers High football team doesn’t have.
Coach Glenwood Ferebee, who led the Cougars to three straight state championship games, is now working at Virginia Tech. Star running back Daylan Smothers, named the NC Preps’ preseason state player of the year, transferred to West Charlotte, committed to Oklahoma, and may not play at all during his senior season.
And Chambers has a new coach, Brandon Wiggins, who was an assistant at Mallard Creek — perhaps Chambers’ biggest rival — for the past two seasons.
But here’s the thing.
Even as Chambers rose to as high as No. 12 in the national rankings last season, Ferebee would often tell people that he felt the 2022 version of the Cougars would be the best one. There was a reason for that. The Cougars were relatively young last season, working in a new quarterback, Anshon “Bubba” Camp.
Yes, losing Smothers -- a former Mr. NC Football and two-time Charlotte Observer offensive player of the year -- will hurt, but the Cougars return 14 starters, including Camp, plus 35 lettermen from a team with championship experience and championship DNA.
So Chambers will start the season No. 1 in The Charlotte Observer’s Sweet 16 football poll. The Cougars’ goal? Reach a fifth straight state championship under a third head coach.
Aaron Brand led the Cougars to the 2018 N.C. 4AA state final. Ferebee’s teams won titles in 2019 and in the spring of 2021.
Chambers lost in the 2021 fall season to Raleigh’s Cardinal Gibbons in the state championship game.
▪ This year, the Sweet 16 will be more of a power poll than ever before, but will still consider a team’s strength of schedule, the strength of the classification it plays in, its performance as well as its likelihood of winning a championship.
2022 Observer Preseason Sweet 16
On the bubble: West Charlotte (3A, 0-11*); Statesville (3A, 7-4); Crest (3A, 10-3); Salisbury (2A, 11-1); Burns (2A, 8-4); Monroe (2A, 8-2)
*Myers Park, West Charlotte had to forfeit its 2021 season due to multiple ineligible players.