PLANO — Behind 28 unanswered points in the first quarter, the Allen football team wasted no time getting its District 9-6A campaign started on the right foot.
The Eagles (4-0, 1-0) needed just 19 seconds to find the end zone for the first time on Friday and didn’t so much as run a play on second down until their ninth offensive snap of the evening — all laying the groundwork for a 56-20 rout of Plano Senior (2-2, 0-1) at Clark Stadium.
“We executed much better and played better in all three phases, especially early in the game,” said Terry Gambill, Allen head coach. “… It was just a great approach with the way we did things tonight. It was a football team coming ready to play to start district.”
Winners of 56 consecutive district ballgames, and continuing an unbeaten run against Plano ISD that dates back to 2005, the Eagles matched their entire scoring output from last week’s 28-21 win over Coppell in just one quarter’s time, beginning with the return of a familiar face behind center. Held out Allen’s turnover-riddled squeaker over the Cowboys due to an ankle injury, senior Raylen Sharpe was back under center on Friday and shook off any rust quickly — finding senior Darrion Sherfield over the middle for a 37-yard touchdown on his first pass of the night for a 7-0 lead that ballooned with each drive for the remainder of the quarter.
Senior Lane Lewis sacked and forced a fumble to squash the Wildcats’ following drive, which was parlayed into an 8-yard touchdown run by junior Jordan Johnson just 35 seconds later. Johnson found the end zone twice in the opening stanza, punctuating the quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run with 50 ticks remaining for a 28-0 advantage.
In between, Allen’s special teams mustered their biggest play of the young season after senior Devin Moore blocked a punt that he then recovered in the end zone for a touchdown.
“Our kids were really focused all week,” Gambill said. “I think they take a lot of pride in being an Allen Eagles and continuing the streaks that we have. It’s not easy and it’s something you’ve got to put a lot of time and effort into.”
“When they go up 28-0, you just have to be patient and try to get it back,” added Jaydon McCullough, Plano head coach. “We just had trouble stopping them. They’re a good football team, and even though we did some good stuff, we just made way too many mistakes. I still think our kids kept fighting, though.”
Between the aforementioned lost fumble and a turnover on downs — both of which came in Allen territory — over the course of their first five drives, the Wildcats’ margin for error dissipated in a hurry on Friday.
Plano’s run game had intermittent moments of success — a 23-yard run up the gut by senior Cody Crist early in the first quarter and some productive work on sweeps by senior Jayden Chambers — but the Eagles’ defensive line got the better of those exchanges more often than not.
In fact, it wasn’t until some trickery through the air that Plano mustered its first points of the evening, dialing up a pass from Chambers to senior Nolan Williams that flummoxed the Allen defense for a 44-yard touchdown.
But even then, Allen was quick to retaliate, uncorking a series of shovel passes from Sharpe to his wide-outs to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by senior Celdon Manning for a 35-7 lead that carried into the half.
Manning tacked on an 11-yard touchdown run with 5:36 left in the third quarter for a 42-7 lead that spelled the end of the night for the Allen starters. Manning led all rushers with 99 yards and two scores on 11 carries, followed by Johnson’s 51 yards on four tries. Through the air, Sharpe was 16-of-25 for 235 yards and a touchdown, with Sherfield logging three catches for 75 yards and a score.
“I thought Raylen played well at times, but I think there’s a lot of improvement and Raylen understands that he has to keep getting better, and I think he will,” Gambill said.
Plano, meanwhile, tallied 403 yards overall, led by 155 rushing yards and a touchdown from junior Tylan Hines, but had its night take a turn for the unfortunate late in the third quarter after senior captain and two-way player Isaiah Calhoun was injured in a collision, stretchered off the field and taken to the hospital.
“All I can tell you is that he was moving his feet and his hands. He just said that he had a sharp pain in the side of his neck,” McCullough said. “He was moving and talking, so we’re just praying for the best. We were pretty shook up about it.”
Plano will also be shorthanded on offense for at least the first half of next week’s rivalry showdown against Plano West after senior Nolan Williams was ejected from Friday’s contest in the second half — meaning he must sit out the first half of the West game.
The Wildcats look to regroup against the Wolves at 7 p.m. Friday from Clark Stadium, while Allen welcomes McKinney at the same time.