While 5-6A staged a wild opening night of football games, Allen got a chance to rest up before embarking on its run through one of the state’s top districts.
The Eagles enter Friday’s 7 p.m. kickoff from McKinney ISD Stadium against McKinney Boyd fresh off their bye week — a brief respite for the state’s No. 14-ranked program in Class 6A following a preseason schedule that yielded a 3-1 record.
“We had to get healthy. We played a pretty tough non-district schedule, so the week was about healing some guys up and then just focusing on ourselves,” said Chad Morris, Allen head coach. “Going back to some techniques and things that you get away from during game-planning time. We just had to hit reset and get ready for the run.”
The Eagles did so with a different start to their week than usual. Allen shifted its focus away from the gridiron last Monday for community service work — helping out in the warehouse at a local outreach center and participating in a canned food drive.
“It’s something we make sure we do every year and just a way for our kids to give back to the community,” Morris said.
The Eagles worked out Tuesday-Thursday and had Friday off — an opportunity to recharge following a preseason that netted wins over Plano East (56-30), Cedar Hill (35-16) and Tyler Legacy (49-28). Mixed in, however, was a 41-20 loss to Atascocita, ranked No. 6 in 6A, for Allen’s first regular-season loss since September 2012. The setback snapped a state-record run of 84 consecutive regular-season wins.
“It’s been a tough preseason but it was good to see our guys have to battle through some adversity,” Morris said. “ … I feel good. We just have to continue to get better and continue to focus on ourselves. We want to be playing our best football at the right time and getting a little better each week.”
Morris feels like his Eagles have followed through in that respect, despite some bumps along the way. Although Allen managed a 21-point victory in its non-district finale against Legacy, it meant weathering five turnovers committed, including three within the game’s first 10 minutes.
Morris chalked those lapses up to poor ball security but still saw plenty to be encouraged by elsewhere within that performance.
“Honestly, I think if you take those turnovers out, it was probably the most complete game we had played in a lot of other areas,” Morris said.
Through four games, senior Jaylen Jenkins and junior Devyn Turner have carried the load for a rushing offense that’s averaging 230 yards per game on more than 7 yards per carry. Sophomore quarterback Mike Hawkins has chipped in 148 yards on the ground to go along with 859 passing yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions to begin his varsity career, and has developed an instant connection with senior receiver Jordyn Tyson. The Colorado commit has 32 receptions for 437 yards and two touchdowns — accounting for 52% of Hawkins’ completions on the season.
That production will be tested on Friday against a Boyd defense allowing 295.6 yards per game on the season, which ranks 19th in the area. That includes just 119.6 rushing yards allowed to complement a veteran secondary anchored by Peyton Shaw, Caden Park, Tre Collins, Brett Burton, Tyson Bolden and Evan Dennis.
That side of the ball has keyed Boyd’s first-ever 5-0 start to a season. The Broncos kept their unbeaten record intact after surviving Friday’s 37-34 ballgame against Denton Braswell in one of two 5-6A matchups that required overtime last week.
“I’ve known [Boyd head coach Joe McBride] for a long time. He’s a tremendous coach who has done great things everywhere that he’s been,” Morris said. “I’ve got great respect for him and what he does, and he’s got those kids playing extremely hard. They’re 5-0 and there’s a lot of excitement and confidence around there right now. We’ve got our hands full.”
Friday’s game is the first of three straight for Allen against teams with undefeated records. Following their district opener against Boyd, the Eagles will host Little Elm on Oct. 8 and travel to Denton to face Guyer, both of whom are 5-0 as well.