Looking to extend its winning streak and march on to a fourth consecutive state title, Allen needed every yard and every stop in a 41-40 victory against DeSoto last week.
DeSoto missed an extra-point attempt midway through the fourth quarter, and Allen made a fourth-down stop near midfield with a minute left to secure its 55th consecutive victory.
It was the fourth consecutive playoff meeting between the teams, with each one better than the last.
In last year’s area round, DeSoto led Allen 22-14 entering the fourth quarter, but Allen scored 11 unanswered for a 25-22 victory.
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Allen has endured three other close playoff games since last year’s DeSoto win, with one coming against this week’s opponent, Arlington Martin. The Warriors (10-2) meet Allen (12-0) in a Class 6A Division I Regional game at 6 p.m. Friday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The game will be televised live on KTXA/Ch. 21.
We want another chance at Allen.
Martin quarterback Eric Walker
Like Allen, Martin is also familiar with DeSoto. The Warriors beat DeSoto 46-26 on Aug. 29.
“DeSoto is another explosive team with a lot of playmakers,” Martin coach Bob Wager said. “Two good football teams, the film is a learning opportunity, and a fun game to watch.”
Last year, Allen defeated Martin 69-54, the only meeting in series history. However, the two teams have scrimmaged one another in eight consecutive seasons.
“We want another chance at Allen,” Martin quarterback Eric Walker said.
Some things have changed in a year. Allen’s Kyler Murray is at Texas A&M, but Wager knows some things are the same.
“Limiting Allen’s offense is a tall order, they are very explosive,” Wager said. “They play two very good quarterbacks, with different strengths, which creates a unique challenge.”
Like Murray, Allen quarterbacks Mitchell Jonke, a junior, and senior Seth Green are dual-threat athletes.
True competitors want a great challenge and both teams want the same thing.
Martin coach Bob Wager
“This year’s offense is very similar. Kyler had a great ability to improvise, was a real X-factor for them,” Wager said. “Both quarterbacks now have great strengths as well, different, but strengths that they bring to the table.”
Allen has arguably been the face of Texas high school football for the past three years.
But Allen’s 55-game winning streak, 59 wins in the past 60 games, doesn’t add any extra motivation for Martin. Wager said his team is ready for the challenge.
“True competitors want a great challenge and both teams want the same thing,” Wager said. “We’re playing in the greatest tournament of all. They’re the next hurdle in this tourney, which is the most aspiring thing.
“Biggest thing for us is, we’re playing in the best venue of all of sports against a terrific football team so my message is to embrace the atmosphere and opportunity and don’t get so worked up that you can’t enjoy it — it’s a fun game.”
Allen quarterbacks Mitchell Jonke and Seth Green have combined for 2,818 yards passing and 33 touchdowns and have run for 1,499 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Martin’s defense has forced six turnovers in the first two rounds, defeating Midland 76-18 in the first round and Amarillo 49-27 last week. Walker threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns against Amarillo.
“Allen is a great team, we just have to take it one play at a time and play our game,” Walker said. “As far as offense and defense specifically, they have a bunch of playmakers on both sides of the ball and that’s why they’ve made it to this point.”
Senior linebacker Daquaylyn Thomas is second on the team this season with 5 1/2 sacks and 79 total tackles. He also has a team-high 24 tackles for a loss.
“Allen is a great team and the coaches let us know that all week during our preparation,” Thomas said. “As a defense, we must all be disciplined with our assignments and focus on containing their quarterbacks in the pocket.”
Allen’s quarterbacks have combined for 2,818 passing yards (33 touchdowns) and 1,499 rushing yards (19 touchdowns). Kirby Bennett is the leading rusher with 915 yards and 10 touchdowns and Lionell McConnell is the leading receiver with 686 yards and seven touchdowns.
“Their offense is still explosive without Kyler, but they still have a very good offensive line to buy the quarterback some time in the pocket to make plays,” Thomas said.
Allen vs. Arlington Martin
6 p.m. Friday, KTXA/21
Allen has all the answers
Playoff teams threaten, but the Eagles find ways to win.
Allen 35, Houston Lamar 21, 2012 title game: Tied 21-all late in the third quarter
Allen 42, DeSoto 35, 2013 state semifinal: Rallied from 15-point deficit in last nine minutes
Allen 25, DeSoto 22, 2014 second round: Sawyer Williams makes a 25-yard FG as time expires
Allen 69, Martin 54, 2014 third round: Tied 41-all, Allen gets TDs on a kickoff return and interception
Allen 30, Euless Trinity 27, 2014 state quarterfinal: Sawyer Williams makes a 25-yard FG with 44 seconds left
Allen 41, DeSoto 40, 2015 second round: Final DeSoto drive ends at the Allen 44.