By JOSH FRYE
Escambia Academy’s football team, riding the wave of a 10-1 record and lop-sided wins in its first two playoff games, is set to make its fifth straight AISA state championship appearance this Friday, November 20.
The Cougars are set to meet 11-1 Chambers Academy, also a perennial championship contender, at 3:30 p.m., in Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl for the Class 2A title.
“We are excited to have another opportunity to play for the title,” EA head coach Hugh Fountain said. “When you go this many times in a row, people hold an expectation of that, and these guys are living up to those expectations.”
EA has faced Chambers only once before in school history, coming out on the short end of a 42-6 score in 1999.
EA has been a part of the last five state championship games and has earned two titles during that span. In 2014, the Cougars defeated Bessemer Academy for the AISA 3A state championship. After failing to make it to the title game in 2015, EA returned as a Class 2A team in 2016, but lost to Autauga Academy. The Cougars defeated Autauga for the 2017 championship but lost to the Autauga Generals in the 2018 and 2019 showdowns.
This year the Cougars hope to add another championship notch to its belt with a win against Chambers, which has been just as impressive as EA. Chambers has made six straight championship appearances since 2015, with only one win (against Crenshaw Academy for the 1A championship in 2018). The only loss on the Chambers Rebels’ record this season is a 40-36 setback to Edgewood, while EA’s only loss came at the start of the season, when they dropped a 24-22 decision to the AISA’s top-ranked team, Class 3A Glenwood.
Impressive season records are not the only thing the teams have in common. Both also have quarterbacks who are coached by their fathers. For EA, defensive coordinator Mike Sims helps guide his son, Landon Sims, while Chambers Academy head coach Jason Allen coaches his son, Peyton Allen. Cougars head coach Hugh Fountain also coaches his son, EA center Troy Fountain.
“I do not think these will be things that matter during the game,” Fountain said. “When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter who is on the team, but who has the better team. The top two, deserving schools are playing Friday for the title, and that is what matters.”
Fountain stressed that this season has not been a single-standout-player year. Instead, he said, there have been a slew of unsung heroes for the Cougars.
“It’s not just the kids who score every week who got us here, it is the entire team,” Fountain said. “These guys have given it their all, on and off the field, and are now reaping the benefits of it. We pride ourselves on ‘you get what you put in.’ They have put in the work, and now it has paid off.”
Fountain not only wants the standout kids being known, but also the players who are not regarded by most as standouts.
“These are the guys who help make this possible,” Fountain said. “They give everything and sacrifice glory for the team.”
He noted that Escambia Academy wants to be known for not only winning, but how they win and how the team and school conduct themselves.
“We are now held up to a certain expectation by the community,” Fountain said. “We are expected to make it to state every year. That has come with the territory of producing a winning record. The thing to understand is that it will not last forever, but these guys buy in.
“The coaching staff has had a big hand in helping with that, but it is the kids who do the work and make it happen. Win or lose this week, these guys are incredible players and people who are driven to succeed.”