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Smoking For Jesus football season ends in state semis

CAPTION: Smoking For Jesus football head coach Charles Frazier, Sr. addresses the Eagles after their season ends in a loss to Bulverde Gloria Deo Academy Nov. 25. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

The Smoking For Jesus football team lost to Bulverde Gloria Deo Academy 34-32 Nov. 25 to end the Eagles’ season one victory short of playing for a state championship of the Texas Association of Independent Athletic Organizations.

The Eagles finish the 2022 season with a 6-6 overall record and 3-0 to be the district champions.

Head coach Charles Frazier, Sr. said he hopes this team will be remembered for several traits, none bigger than the most obvious.

“Versatility, above all things,” he said. “They went through a lot, they fought hard for everything they got. If I had to give one word, it’s versatility.”

This game was a rematch between the two squads. The Eagles won the first meeting for the district crown 36-34 Oct. 28. The Lions (8-3, 3-2) avoided making the same errors they committed the first time. The biggest was running out the clock by giving the ball to senior Davis Chandler to protect the two-point lead with 4 minutes and 4 seconds left in the contest. And Chandler delivered.

SFJ senior quarterback Isaac Legier scored a 46-yard touchdown, but the Eagles bobbled the snap on the two-point kick attempt that didn’t allow the kicker to try to tie the contest, SFJ attempted an onside kick the Lions recovered on their own 25-yard line.

Chandler ran the ball seven times, none bigger than the 24-yard scamper to the Eagles one-yard line where he took a knee. The Lions then got into victory formation.

The bobbled snap and not recovering the onside kick were the final errors committed by the Eagles throughout the wet contest where a mist fell on the natural-grass field that caused players to slip and made the ball slick. Therefore, the passing attack was limited and a slick ball also paved the way for fumbles and dropped passes.

While Chandler scored on a 30-yard touchdown run for the game’s first score, the Eagles fumbled on their opening possession. Chandler responded with another touchdown run of 33 yards that allowed the Lions to build a 14-0 advantage with 15 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Legier cut into the lead when he ran to paydirt from 15 yards out. Senior Jonathan Frazier ran in the one-point run to trim the deficit to 14-7 with 8:07 left in the half.

But the Lions got the score right back when Chandler scored on a 14-yard touchdown run for a 21-7 lead at the half.

The Eagles came out on fire, determined to erase the two touchdown deficit.

“I told them to lay it on the line,” coach Frazier recalled the half-time talk. “You play like you never played before if this is your last game. They came out just like that. They literally played their hearts out. They made the adjustments, and we were able to erase the deficit.”

The first score came when Legier finished the opening drive of the second half on a 40-yard touchdown run. Jonathan Frazier caught the one-point pass to trim the deficit to 21-14 with 9:21 left in the third stanza.

The Lions punted on their next possession. Legier scored on an 11-yard touchdown run though the Eagles failed to convert on the one-point run to trail 21-20 with 6:30 left in the third period.

Though Gloria Deo punted on their next possession, sophomore Nolan Chandler caught an interception he returned for a 49-yard touchdown. The one-point run failed, but the Lions led 27-20 with 2:38 left in the third stanza.

Smoking For Jesus cut into the lead again when Legier scored on a four-yard run. A bad snap didn’t allow the one-point play to be attempted, preserving a 27-26 Lion lead with 9:15 left in the game.

Davis Chandler scored on a 25-yard run and junior quarterback Cameron Playford found sophomore Tres Rios for the one-point pass and a 34-26 lead with 8:51 remaining.

Both defenses forced the offenses to the turn the ball over on downs to set up Legier’s final touchdown and final 4:08 of the contest.

Legier finished with 13 rushes for 222 yards and 5 touchdowns and completed 7 passes for 71 yards.

“There are no words to put on Isaac,” the coach said. “I’ll never get another player with Isaac’s heart. No way I could replace that.”

Davis Chandler had 25 rushes for 247 yards and 4 touchdowns and completed 4 passes for 67 yards.

SFJ won three consecutive state championships as members of the Texas Christian Athletic League. The coach said he doesn’t regret recommending the association change.

“I feel good,” he said. “I thought it was a great decision. It made the difference in the growth. When these boys come back, they’re going to be hungry. They don’t want this feeling again. I think they’ll be hungry.”

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