Even Terry Gambill, the normally stoic and always professional head coach of the just-crowned UIL Class 6A Division I state champion Allen Eagles, couldn’t completely stifle a smile when talking about his superstar running back.
Senior Brock Sturges, who was named the UIL Offensive Player of the Game, ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns in Allen’s 35-33 victory over Lake Travis. He carried the ball a whopping 32 times and averaged 5.5 yards per carry.
All against one of the top defenses in the state in Lake Travis.
“Not too bad for a second-team all-state player, is it?” Gambill said.
From the opening snap of the championship game, it was clear what Gambill and his coaching staff’s plan was – feed Sturges, and feed him often. With a quick 7-0 lead, Sturges became the focal point of the Allen offense in the first quarter, scoring two touchdowns and giving the Eagles a 21-0 lead.
Lake Travis fought back, at one point even taking a 24-21 lead, but the game plan never changed: in fact, junior quarterback Grant Tisdale finished the game with only eight pass attempts.
With Sturges, an Arizona State commit, in the backfield behind a talented offensive line, there was never a doubt in Gambill’s mind about his and his staff’s play calling.
“We put in a game plan leading up to today, and [Sturges] was it,” Gambill said. “Besides having him in the backfield, it was very important for us to keep attacking with our offensive line, because that wears opponents down.”
With Sturges notching run after run, other players began getting into the rhythm established by the offensive line. Tisdale, who wasn’t asked to throw very often, finished the game with 81 yards rushing on 14 carries, and backup running back Juwan Robinson averaged seven yards per carry.
Fittingly, first-down runs by Tisdale and Sturges iced the game for Allen in the fourth quarter, giving the Eagles their fifth state title in program history.
“I just kept telling my guys in the huddle that we were in this together,” Sturges said. “I knew we were going to pound the ball today, and I have the greatest offensive line in the state, so I knew we could have success if we just kept pushing.”
Sturges added that he never worried about his quarterback, as he knew that Tisdale could make just as big of an impact with his legs as with his arms.
“I want to go on record and say that [Tisdale] is the best quarterback in the country for 2019, and he’s a dual threat, so we knew he could do what he did on the ground,” Sturges said. “He got frustrated at the beginning of the game, but I kept telling him to stick with it, that we knew he could impact the game on the ground. He definitely did.”
Sturges’ success –in the championship game and throughout his senior season, where he was named District 6-6A Offensive Player of the Year and broke current NFL running back Jonathan Williams’ all-time Allen rushing record – can be traced back to his demeanor off the field and his work ethic in the weight room, according to Gambill.
“We asked a lot of him in this game, but his preparation begins well before we start playing in August,” Gambill said. “He squats 500 pounds. He’s always putting in extra conditioning. And he is a workhorse for us during the year, so we knew what he could do.
“But really, Brock goes about things the right way in his life. He attacks the day the right way. He takes care of his academics so he’s always available for his teammates. He’s a yes-sir, yes-ma’am type of guy. And it just goes to show that, if you’re a good person who does things correctly, you’ll be rewarded.”
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