If Hollywood produced a film about this season’s Allen Academy football team, it easily could be titled Dr. Matthew J. Rush or: How I Learned to Stop Doubting and Pick the Rams.
Rush, the Head of School at Allen Academy, rightly ribbed The Eagle’s 24-mammal Prognosticator Panel in a tweet on Oct. 12 following the Rams’ 72-37 homecoming victory over rival St. Joseph. Everyone but Brenham National Bank’s Barbie Springer picked the Eagles.
“Thanks, Ms. Springer, the only Ram believer of the prognosticators,” Rush tweeted. “Never doubt the heart of the Rams!”
Apparently, I still hadn’t learned my lesson.
Two weeks later following the Rams’ bye, I again picked against Allen Academy for its matchup against Conroe Covenant Christian. The Rams won 56-47 over the favored Cougars.
I finally picked the Rams last week ahead of their 26-6 win over Houston Grace Christian, though I shouldn’t get much credit for that since Grace Christian is still searching for its first win of the season.
That’s not too far off the kind of season Allen Academy had last year, and the Rams’ improvement in 2018 under first-year head coach Adrian Adams has been astounding. After going 3-7, including a pair of forfeits, last year in its first season back from a one-year hiatus, the Rams have gone 7-2, including 4-0 in TAPPS 6-man Division II District 3. Despite fielding just 10 players, Allen Academy has been up to just about every challenge opponents have thrown its way.
“The key to our success has been the weight program we had throughout the summer,” Adams said. “Getting a year under their belt, they’re more mature physically and mentally, and that kind of goes with the mentality of being Ram tough. I think we started thriving off of the fact that people had us as underdogs and didn’t expect us to do very much. That’s kind of carried us along a little bit.”
The Rams have been underdogs for most of district play, and they’ll play that role again as they travel to Huntsville Alpha Omega (4-3, 4-0) at 7 p.m. Friday with the outright championship on the line. The Lions are 35-point favorites, according to sixmanfootball.com.
Despite not having experience in a game of this magnitude, the Rams’ youth could be a surprising positive against Alpha Omega. Senior linemen Sam Dawson and Jaxon Rodell and junior quarterback Brandon Boyd are Allen Academy’s lone upperclassmen, but several sophomores have played well in starring roles, including receiver/defensive back Aaron Boegner, running back Brent Tucker and running back/linebacker Ryan Hassell. For a young team that has played without outside expectations all season, being in the same underdog position for a game with these stakes could prove beneficial.
It’s worked for the Rams thus far as they are outscoring their district opponents 184-106. Alpha Omega has been even more dominant, though, outscoring its district foes 216-40.
On paper, it appears the Lions should win fairly handily.
I won’t be making that mistake again.
Prediction: Allen Academy 36, Alpha Omega 32
THREE TO WATCH
1. Burton at Snook
The Panthers and Bluejays face off for the District 14-2A Division II title at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Snook (8-1, 3-0) has been an offensive force led by senior Damon Allen. The Bluejays are averaging 42.8 points per game.
But Burton (6-2, 3-0) is averaging 48.9 points a game and has a pair of senior standouts in quarterback Caleb Harmel and all-purpose back Demonderick Winters. The Panthers’ edge in firepower should be the difference.
2. Centerville at Leon
In another de facto district title game — this one for 9-2A Division I — Centerville and Leon are evenly matched and have mowed down the rest of the district.
The Tigers (6-3, 4-0) have outscored district opponents 148-13, the Cougars (7-2, 4-0) 192-48, and both feature strong running games. Leon quarterback Peyton Pruett has been excellent this season, and his outing could decide the district.
3. Normangee at Kerens
Also in 9-2A-I, Normangee (4-5, 2-2) is in third but could lose its playoff spot altogether with a loss to Kerens (2-7, 1-3) if Cayuga beats Cross Roads and the point totals fall the right way. Look for the Panthers to take matters into their own hands.
Bryan at Cypress Woods — Still in the woods. Cy-Woods 24-10
Calvert at McDade — Trojans steamroll. Calvert 46-0
College Station at Magnolia West — Cougars chase down ’Stangs. College Station 37-24
Cleveland at A&M Consolidated — Juuuuuussst a bit out of reach. Consol 70-0
Rudder at Huntsville — Bug spray doesn’t help. Huntsville 55-27
Pflugerville Weiss at Brenham — Cubs close strong. Brenham 42-6
Caldwell at Smithville — Hornets buzz on. Caldwell 27-14
Lago Vista at Cameron — Yoe cruises. Cameron 63-7
Rockdale at Little River Academy — Tigers bumble on by. Rockdale 42-14
Crockett at Franklin — Cats beat dogs. Franklin 38-7
Anderson-Shiro at Newton — Champs stay champs. Newton 42-7
Normangee at Kerens — Panthers pounce. Normangee 27-20
Centerville vs. Leon at Madisonville — Cougars take cat battle. Leon 34-27
Holland at Milano — Hornets sting Eagles. Holland 44-21
Rosebud-Lott at Hearne — Nipped in the bud. Hearne 49-7
Iola at Bartlett — In the doghouse. Iola 45-6
Burton at Snook — Panthers snag Bluejays. Burton 38-27
Brazos Christian at Magnolia Legacy Prep — Lions feast. Magnolia Prep 28-26
Last week: 21-4 (.840)
Season: 164-49 (.770)