Marion High School athletic director Steve Moritz used heartfelt words Wednesday evening to described what former Giants’ football Craig Chambers has meant to the school, its athletic programs and students.
“He’s been the best thing to happen to Marion High School in many years,” said Moritz, who learned earlier on Wednesday that Chambers was resigning from his duties as Marion’s football coach to return to Indianapolis, his hometown, and become the varsity football coach and assistant athletic director at Arsenal Tech High School.
“His integrity, the type of person that he is, the respect he gets from the kids – not only football players, but our entire student body – the way he treats our student body is second to none,” Moritz continued. “To lose him is going to be a real difficult blow to find a replacement. But we will. And we’ll find someone we feel will do an excellent job and have the same type of integrity that Coach Chambers does.”
Chambers started his football coaching career as an assistant at Tech in 2009. After four seasons there, he took the head coaching position at Indianapolis Howe, where his teams went 23-13 and won a Class 2A regional title in 2015.
Chambers arrived at Marion for the spring semester of 2016 and had an immediate impact in turning around the struggling football program. Prior to his arrival, the Giants had won just three games from 2013 through 2015, including going 0-10 the year prior to Chambers taking over.
The Giants went 5-5 in 2016, Chambers’ first year, then followed with seasons of 7-4, the first winning mark since 2010, 13-1 and went 9-3 last season.
The 2018 season was one of the best in Marion football history and included a 13-game winning streak, a North Central Conference championship along with the first sectional and regional titles for the program since 1990.
Moritz said the search to find Chambers’ successor would begin immediately on Thursday morning.
“We’re going to find a new football coach as quickly as we can, but not to go too quickly to make sure we get the best and most viable candidate that’s there for us,” Moritz said.
Chambers had forged with Mosi Barnes, Tech’s current athletic director, when the two men worked at Howe. Barnes was the boys basketball coach at Howe during Chambers’ tenure there. The relationship was fostered at Marion where Barnes filled the role of assistant athletic director in during the 2017-18 school year.
Moritz said he’d know for about a month that Tech was interested in Chambers’ services, so he wasn’t totally surprised by the coach’s departure. “Not speaking at all for Coach Chambers, but I can tell you this is probably hardest decision he’s ever had to make,” Moritz said. “I think his heart is still here in Marion but I think he felt like for other, even more significant reasons, that maybe he should make this move to Indianapolis. One of the major reasons I think was because of family.”
Chambers, who couldn’t be reached for comment, echoed that sentiment in an article in the IndyStar.
“I was happy where I was and I still am,” Chambers told the Star. “(Marion) is a great place, but I wanted to get back home.”
Some of Chambers’ former Marion players made posts on social media expressing their love and gratitude for his work. Class of 2021 senior, Michael Seybold, started working with Chambers and his staff when he was still a middle schooler. He posted a long and heartfelt message to Chambers on Facebook. Following is an excerpt from that post.
“...I was able to see a culture change on and off the field in Marion. Players began taking everything much more serious. Coach Craig and his staff not only stressed football to us, but they gave us lessons in life. They helped to steer people on a path to be successful. There were real conversations. There was hard conversations, but they always helped us in the end. As a teacher, Coach Craig truly cared about everyone and was always there to help...” JuanCarlos Ramirez, a standout linebacker in the Giants’ class of 2020 and who will continue his football career at Anderson University, used three heart emojis and stated on Facebook, “Craig Chambers love you coach.”
Chambers move to Tech means he will stay in the North Central Conference and his Titans are scheduled to visit the Giants on Oct. 9 in Dick Lootens Stadium.