Fresh off the bye week, the Allen football team looks to keep rolling Friday night against a familiar foe.
The Eagles, unbeaten on the year at 5-0 overall and 2-0 in District 9-6A, will travel to Murphy’s Kimbrough Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff against Plano East.
Although the win-loss column has been par for the course for state-ranked Allen, head coach Terry Gambill and his staff weren’t lacking in areas to address during the off time — from continued struggles limiting big plays in the secondary to protecting the football after winding up on the positive end of the turnover battle just once.
Those issues, coupled with East’s penchant for playing the Eagles tough in Kimbrough Stadium, has Allen head coach Terry Gambill stressing the importance of Friday’s matchup.
“Plano East is a very dangerous football team. They have an excellent quarterback and their running back is as good as I’ve seen,” Gambill said. “Defensively, they do a really good job of creating confusion out of the 3-4. I don’t think you can go off of their record of who they are.”
Both teams were afforded the bye week to heal up some nagging injuries to certain key players, although the Panthers could still be without senior defensive anchor K’Von Hamilton on Friday — forcing a trickle-down effect of personnel for head coach Joey McCullough in his staff to keep his defensive line afloat.
They’ll be tasked with slowing a dynamic Allen offense spearheaded by senior quarterback Raylen Sharpe behind center and a high-efficiency run game between senior Celdon Manning and junior Jordan Johnson that’s averaging more than 8.0 yards per carry this season.
The Panthers will try and keep pace with their own brutish backfield tandem, with both junior quarterback Dylan Hayden (72 carries, 308 rushing yards, five touchdowns) and senior running back Trey Jones-Scott (74 carries, 306 yards, two touchdowns) in lockstep in their production on the ground.
With East logging just two passing touchdowns on the season, testing Allen’s secondary vertically could prove easier said than done — likely meaning the lower the Panthers can keep the score and tempo in this one, the better.
Matt’s Pick: Allen by 35
Lovejoy at Frisco Reedy
Thursday, 7 p.m. at Frisco ISD Memorial Stadium
What was billed as a meeting between arguably the top two teams in District 7-5A Division II last season resulted in a 51-0 lambasting in favor of the Lions. The narrative has changed a bit this time around, although both teams are once again in the playoff conversation.
Reedy, which advanced four rounds deep in the playoffs and won 13 games last season, has taken a step back in the wake of graduating an accomplished senior class and has endured its share of growing pains as a result. Sporting a 4-2 record, including a 3-1 mark in district play, the Lions still remain formidable in several areas — primarily on defense where reigning MVP and senior Will Harbour leads the way at linebacker.
Harbour is among the area’s most versatile players, contributing on special teams as the Lions’ kicker, as well as a change-of-pace option at quarterback.
Reedy posted its first shutout victory of the season last week against Frisco Memorial, 40-0, and has allowed just 13 points over its last seven quarters played — three of which came against unbeaten Frisco in a narrow 35-31 loss.
That should make for an interesting matchup opposite a Lovejoy offense that has improved its scoring output in every game this season — averaging 45.6 points per game since a season-opening 13-10 loss to Colleyville Heritage.
Junior quarterback R.W. Rucker has been as advertised in amassing one of the top dual-threat campaigns of any signal-caller in the area with 902 passing yards, 533 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns. Top targets Reid Westervelt (386 receiving yards, eight touchdowns) and Luke Mayfield (269 receiving yards, seven touchdowns) have shined in the passing game as well.
It’s on that side of the ball, where the Leopards are averaging 416.6 yards per game on the season, where Lovejoy is likely to traverse its best path to victory. For as stout as Reedy has been on defense, it’s just 1-2 in games where it has allowed the opponent to score than 30 points.
But the Lions, averaging just 23.8 points and 282.7 yards allowed this season, pose the stiffest test for the Leopards’ offense since that sluggish opener.
Matt’s Pick: Reedy by 7