When North Rowan’s Jareke Chambers is asked how he can improve for next year, he takes a few seconds, measuring up a suitable response.
It’s understandable to struggle to think of ways to get better after a season that included 2,623 all-purpose yards and 28 touchdowns.
Earlier during the all-county video, he had to look down at his jersey to remember his number but when you put up as many numbers as Chambers did, it’s easy to forget a few. He’s number seven, considered lucky by many, and maybe it is since Chambers had plenty of good fortune in 2013.
Anyone who didn’t see Chambers as a potential stud forgot he set a school record for rushing yards in a game with 272 in the playoff loss to West Montgomery. North lost that game in the final seconds in a heartbreaking way to end the year, but Chambers was a pillar it could lean against.
Chambers is unanimously the County Offensive Player of the Year, about as much of a no-brainer as you’ll see. Leading the county in total offense, Chambers was the catalyst for a team that averaged 39.4 points a game.
“We knew Jareke was going to be a special player from the first day we got there,” Nixon said. “He’s got a good work ethic and he’s a good kid to be around.”
A 64-yard touchdown was the Cavs’ first score of the year and was a preview of things to come.
North’s early schedule included generally stout programs like Davie County and Statesville and long trips to Providence Grove and Forest Hills. On top of that, North entered the Central Carolina Conference with giants such as Salisbury and Thomasville.
“Looking at the schedule I thought we were going to start off 2-2,” Chambers said. “I didn’t know if we’d beat Davie and Statesville.”
Thanks to Chambers, they did and were 4-0 instead. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound junior ran for 198 yards and threw for 127 against Statesville while scoring the game-winning touchdown with eight seconds left. North scored twice in the final 4:05 to sail into the top 10 in the state AP poll.
“He had a full week of practice at quarterback before the Statesville game,” Nixon said. “He felt more comfortable running the offense and the biggest thing he did was lead us and keep making plays for us.”
The next week, Chambers connected with Cameron Sifford for an 85-yard touchdown pass than put North up for good against 4A Davie County. All of a sudden, North was 4-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state and Chambers responded by tying a county record and setting another school record with six touchdowns against Providence Grove.
North coach Joe Nixon, in his second year, has helped Chambers come along and he’s been receptive.
“I’m learning how to take coaching better than I usually did,” Chambers said. “Used to, I would argue with them sometimes.”
Although his play didn’t seem vulnerable, Chambers had some trepidation about taking over the signal-caller spot when Alexis Archie broke his arm in Week 2.
Some offenses would sputter without the starting quarterback. North was just as good, if not better, with Chambers behind center. His all-world skills came out against Statesville a week later.
“I was real scared actually,” Chambers said. “But it was nothing new. Just stepping up and throwing the ball.”
Thanks to Chambers, the Cavs didn’t really miss a beat with Archie out. He certainly didn’t look scared in the waning seconds of a tie game against a 3A power.
With a little over four minutes to play and North trailing 33-27, Chambers fired a 16-yard touchdown pass to Sakil Harrison that tied the score. The extra point was no good but Chambers had more heroics planned.
At the 17-yard line, Chambers watched as the pocket collapsed. He stepped up and found open space in the flat and got a block from Raekwon Wynruit and shifted over toward the sideline and snuck in past the corner pylon.
Chambers is the 13th Cavalier to win County Offensive Player of the Year, ironic since North’s 13 win-season was a first for the school. He’s got another year left as do offensive stalwarts Alexis Archie and Sakil Harrison.
The Cavs’ dream season ended with a loss in the third round to Shelby, but the future’s still bright.
“We could be really good again next year,” Chambers said, while rattling off the returning players.
Chambers knows about responsibility. He’s older than four of his siblings, who he helps look after.
Of course, he still has some fun. And who wouldn’t in his shoes? In downtime, Chambers likes to dance among friends and family. The robot is a favorite dance and you can find him in the locker room after Cavalier wins breaking it down.
This year, he had all the right moves on and off the field.
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