Lone Star Gridiron

Allen, Wylie don’t hold back

With their playoff positions locked in before kickoff Friday night, Allen and Wylie might've been tempted to play it safe at Eagle Field. Instead, the teams battled in an intense game that they might feel until they open the playoffs next week.

Not until Allen running back Jeremiah Williams fought for three yards and a first down in the final minute could the Eagles start celebrating a 31-28 victory that clinched the District 8-5A title.

After a 22-yard touchdown run by Williams midway through the third quarter, Allen (9-1, 6-0) had scored 21 unanswered points to grab a 28-14 lead and all the momentum. But Wylie (8-2, 4-2), which plays with the motto "respect everyone, fear no one," showed no fear as they played for a share of the 8-5A title. Wylie cut the lead to 28-21 on Jerod Monk's 26-yard touchdown pass to Justin Thompson with one minute left in the third quarter. And after an Allen field goal, Wylie drove 87 yards for another touchdown to cut the lead to 31-28 with 5:48 left in the game.

That's when Allen's offense, which scored on its first three possessions of the second half, iced the game with its fourth possession. Allen's final 10 plays of the game were runs behind its big offensive line. The running game was the Eagles' strength on a night when quarterback Matt Brown threw three interceptions in the first half.

Allen, No. 2 in SportsDay's 5A area rankings, will be 8-5A's top seed in 5A Division I and face South Grand Prairie next week. Wylie, ranked sixth, will be the top seed in Division II and play Irving. Both teams knew their playoff fates a week ago, so it would've been hard to blame either for looking ahead before Friday's game.

Especially Allen, which has now won three straight district titles and hasn't lost a district game since 2005. A district title was the first goal, but Allen, as with all elite teams, will be measured by what it does over the next six weeks. Allen's undefeated regular season last year was the talk of the town for only one week, when the subject abruptly changed to how the team lost to Rowlett in the first round of the playoffs.

Prior to that disappointment, Allen had advanced to the state semifinals in 2003 and 2006, and the Eagles' biggest problem was clear: They couldn't beat Southlake Carroll. Allen lost in the playoffs four straight years to Carroll, which went a ridiculous 63-1 during that span.

Still, the question was asked. When will Allen win a state title?

Maybe it will be this year, although Division I is loaded with excellent teams. But on Friday, Allen showed the qualities of a team that can make a deep playoff run, and so did Wylie.

Whether they can be consistent with those qualities over the next six weeks in yet to be seen. But by not playing it safe Friday, the Wylie and Allen players are as prepared as anyone for the tests ahead.

As long as they can get out of bed today.

By Matt Wixon  Staff Reports

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