Friday Night Hero: North Rowan’s T.J. Allen
By Ronnie Gallagher
SPENCER ó T.J. Allen admitted he was a little nervous. His teammates admitted the same.
And why wouldn’t they be? Because of a concussion to Jesse Rudisell, Allen, the freshman jayvee quarterback, started on homecoming against Chatham Central.
Everyone’s fears quickly subsided. Allen’s first drive as a varsity starter went 88 yards. He threw two touchdown passes and scored once himself.
Suddenly, the nervousness turned into confidence.
“Honestly, I was a little nervous at first,” tight end Sam Mauldin said. “I was used to having Jesse back there. But once I saw what he could do, I got comfortable with him.”
Mauldin caught a 27-yard screen pass from Allen for a TD. When Allen threw a 30-yard touchdown strike to Sam Starks on a wheel route, North quarterbacks coach Bobby Myers was comfortable, too.
“He read it quick and laid it out there.” Myers said. “He hit Sam in full stride. You couldn’t have thrown it any better.”
The end result was a 34-7 win in Allen’s varsity debut.
The soft-spoken Allen didn’t have much to say about his performance. You could barely hear him.
“He’s quiet and humble,” Starks said. “But he was ready when he heard he was starting. He was happy.”
Allen shrugged off the praise, pointing out, “I just did what the coaches said.”
“They gave me the plays and I ran them. They told me to be calm and have confidence in the offense.”
The players put their two cents in as well.
“We worked with him in practice,” Starks said. “We told him he could do it. He brought his ‘A’ game.”
Myers was glad to see it.
This has not been the greatest year stat-wise for a position that has always stood out at North Rowan. Allen was a challenge Myers glady accepted.
“With a young kid, you need to do less hollering and more teaching,” Myers said. “You need to get them to relax. I told him to do what he’s been doing on jayvee, where he has put up some good numbers. I told him that on varsity, they put their pads on the same way. The speed’s just a little different.”
Mauldin said the team tried to keep it simple for Allen. Mauldin’s touchdown catch-and-run was a perfect example.
“We just put it in this week,” Mauldin said. “It’s intended to be a 5-, 10-yard pass. The guard and tackle block outside, and I follow them.”
Allen said, “I passed it to him, and he did the rest.”
All of the seniors, including fullback Vince Shropshire, were there for their freshman.
“I told him the same thing I told Jesse,” Shropshire said. “If I’m blocking for you, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure you don’t get hit. It gave him confidence.”
And now the Cavaliers believe in Allen heading into their Yadkin Valley 1A showdown with West Montgomery on Friday. The team that wins has sole possession of second place.
Allen is expected to stay up on varsity.
“We’re real proud of T.J.,” Myers said. “Now, he’s got six full jayvee games and one varsity game under his belt, so he’s probably got more snaps than anybody.”
And after such a good performance Friday, as much confidence as anybody.