This week, Canton is tuning up its one-of-a-kind offense for a one-of-a-kind game: the first state semifinal in school history.
“We knew we could do great things,” senior running back Jace Chamberlin said. “I don’t know if we ever thought we’d do this, but now we definitely think we have a chance at a state championship.”
Canton’s run game has been the key all season. Chamberlin has more than 1400 rushing yards, but none in the team’s historic playoff run.
The senior has not suited up since a devastating injury in Week 9, in which he tore multiple ligaments and may have dislocated his left kneecap.
“I was very emotional,” Chamberlin said. “I was crying.”
Canton Head Coach Ryan Pearson said it pains him to see his star running back in crutches during Little Giants’ playoff games. “Jace is a competitor, and he wants to be out there in the worst way,” Pearson said. “But he’s not hanging his head, and he’s not feeling sorry for himself. He’s trying to contribute in any way that he can.”
Pearson said Chamberlin is still the first player on the practice field, and acts as the same team captain.
“I look up to him a lot. He’s like a brother to me, and I ask him for a lot of advice,” junior running back Drake Yerbic said. “I love seeing him out here. He’s a dedicated player. I just hate to see him get hurt and not be able to play his senior year.”
Yerbic and junior quarterback Clint Wells have carried most of the load for the Canton offense in the 4A playoffs.
Chamberlin said he is trying to convince his mother to allow him dress for the 4A state championship if the Giants win Saturday’s semifinal at Rochester. No matter what happens, Jace Chamberlin is purple and gold to the end.
“I knew I’d always be there,” Chamberlin said. “It’s still my team, still my brothers out there, so I want to be a part of it with them.”