On the heels of a turnover-fueled nail-biter against Coppell, the Allen football team put together its most complete effort of the season in Friday’s 59-20 rout of Plano Senior.
The Eagles helped their cause with a 28-point first quarter, triggered by a 37-yard touchdown pass from senior Raylen Sharpe to senior Darrion Sherfield on just their second play from scrimmage, to set the tone for a lopsided beginning to Allen’s District 9-6A schedule.
“Bottom line, I think that we really executed well in that first quarter. The second of the play for our offense, that is as good a pass between Raylen and Sherfield as you’ll see. It was executed so well,” said Terry Gambill, Allen head coach.
Gambill lauded the work of his offensive line, which helped the Eagles’ run game average nearly 10 yards per carry, as well as the team’s execution in both limiting turnovers and big plays through the air. Those two areas have been a collective thorn in Allen’s side despite its unbeaten record, and despite entering Friday’s ballgame at a minus-5 in turnover differential on the year, the Eagles didn’t cough the ball up once versus Plano and held the Wildcats’ passing attack under 100 yards.
The Eagles look to maintain that momentum against one of the area’s more high-powered offenses on Friday when they welcome McKinney to Eagle Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Lions are looking for their first distrit win after having a two-game winning streak snapped by Prosper in a 49-14 loss. The result was the first taste of adversity for a Lion offense that had its way with its first three opponents, averaging 49 points per game, before being shut out in the first half by Prosper.
McKinney looks to get on track with a much different set of skill-position personnel than what Allen saw last season, with the team’s leading passer (Sampson Nazarko), rusher (Lamarrya Ransem) and receiver (Isaiah Rojas) all new to their respective roles this season. Defensively, the Lions are led up front by defensive end and Baylor commit Mitchell Tyler, who’s versatile enough to play multiple positions on head coach Marcus Shavers’ three-man front.
“Coach Shavers and his staff do a really good job. Their team is very well-coached,” Gambill said. “They’ve got some kids on the defensive side that run well to the football. You see they’re well-coached from their technique. … Offensively, to me, they look more balanced on offense. Watching the video, they’re an offense that takes what you give them. If you have seven in the box, they’re throwing the football. If there’s five in the box, they’re going to run.”
It’s the Lions’ potency in the latter that particularly caught the coach’s eye, with Gambill wise to the impact McKinney running backs Ransem and RJ Carver, both of whom average more than 5.0 yards per carry, are capable of.
“Their running backs, to me, are some of the best that we’ve seen up to this point,” Gambill said. “They really run hard. They’re old school-type running backs who run hard, break tackles, protect the football and do a great job pass blocking.”
Matt’s Pick: Allen by 31
Lovejoy at Denton Braswell
Friday, 7 p.m. at Denton’s Bronco Field
Taylor Raglin: While the Leopards have bounced back from a disappointing, 13-10 loss to Colleyville Heritage in the season's first week, the program will get its biggest test of 2019 this Friday when they head to Denton to call upon 2-2 Braswell.
The Leopards bring a 2-1 record into the showdown, though they largely haven't been tested since their Week One loss. Lovejoy has dispatched of a still-winless Sulphur Springs team and second-year varsity program Frisco Memorial.
On the other side, the Bengals have tangled with Frisco (a 33-28 setback), Burleson (a 42-30 defeat) and Red Oak (a 48-27 season-opening win), leaving them battle-tested heading into their matchup with the Leopards, who enjoyed a week off to get ready for the showdown.
That week of advanced prep could prove critical if the Leopards want to continue their forward momentum early in District 7-5A Division II play, and a win over Braswell would go a long way toward propelling junior first-year quarterback Ralph Rucker and the Leopards into the upper tier of a what's proven to be a wild conference.
Overall, Friday's contest is likely to be a high-scoring affair that tips one way or another late, as Braswell quarterback Greyson Thompson and the Bengals have done the majority of their scoring in the second half of each of their last two outings. Lovejoy is no stranger to big performances late either, as evidenced by Rucker and company's 13-point fourth quarter in the Leopards' win over Sulphur Springs.
Taylor's Pick: Lovejoy by 3