Eagles make Allison’s head coaching debut a memorable one
The primary focus of Mike Allison’s debut as head coach of the Dawson Eagles last Friday wasn’t about him returning to a football team for which he helped lay the foundation.
While the opening kickoff may have stirred some emotions, Allison knew his goal was geared toward putting a quality product on the field.
“My main thing was, win or lose, I just wanted to see if the kids could be unselfish and play well against a team that was going to have some big kids and be well-coached,” Allison said.
“The kids did that, and that’s what I was most proud of. Coach (Ryan) Silvertooth and coach (Tre) Grimes did a great job of putting in the game plan.
“It was kind of a challenging week because we were dodging lightning and having to work in the gym. It wasn’t a normal week of practice.”
The Eagles then made a lengthy trek up north and managed to claim a 34-21 victory over Conroe Oak Ridge.
Dawson was able to move the ball and hold Oak Ridge at bay, despite playing a wealth of new faces in the offensive and defensive lines.
“Oak Ridge has some big guys - I’m talking about 300 pounders almost all the way across,” Allison said. “Blake Gonzalez, who plays noseguard for us, fought his tail off and did a great job.
“The same can be said for our offensive line. Those guys finished plays. The backs ran hard, and the receivers did a good job. Other than catching the ball, they latched on to Oak Ridge’s DB’s and blocked well.”
The Eagles secured the win with a late drive that caught Allison’s attention.
“We were up 27-21, and then we went on a 17-play drive that took close to seven minutes, and we finished it with a (touchdown),” he said. “In the fourth quarter, if we don’t score there, they get the ball and it could be a totally different game.
“Speaking as a defensive coordinator, those kinds of drives get you down. I’d much rather have a team hit a one-play long pass on me than have that long drive. On long drives, you know that one team is winning the battles a lot more often.”
Dawson quarterback Patrick Kramer threw touchdown passes of 21 and 71 yards to Mason Pierce and also connected on a 68-yard TD toss to Jalen Freeman.
The Eagle running game was powered by Ja’Den Stewart, who bolted 66 yards for one score, while Caleb Eaton’s one-yard plunge with 1:30 left capped the 17-play march.
“Patrick made some good decisions, and he seemed very calm throughout the game,” Allison said. “Mason Pierce is something else. He nearly gave me a heart attack on the sideline when he caught a pass on third or fourth down at about the 20, and then started running back across the field, and ended up scoring.
“He’s a great athlete and teammate, and it’s good to see him succeed. You can’t help but like they guy.”
The Eagles now turn their focus to Humble Summer Creek, which was handled pretty easily last week by Shadow Creek, 43-7. That game will be played at 6 p.m. Saturday in Humble.
“I guarantee you Summer Creek will be fired up,” Allison said. “Shadow Creek has great athletes, and I guess that shows what they’re capable of doing, and they’re going to have a great season over there.
“Where Summer Creek is concerned, I’ve lost game one before, and you just feel like ‘let’s change this right now.’
“You feel the pressure of having to flip your season immediately. I’ve felt that pressure. But coach (Kenny) Harrison has been successful everywhere he’s been. We’re going to have to have that same effort this week - without the mistakes - to have some success.”
The Eagles also emerged from the physical game with Oak Ridge with only limited injuries.
“We had one kid get banged up that may not be back this week, and another that didn’t suit out for us that could be back Saturday,” Allison said. “It’s nothing that Chris Shaddock (head Dawson trainer) and our outstanding training staff can’t take care of.
“We know we’re going to have to fight through tough times every week. Effort can overcome mistakes with any team, but especially with one as young as ours, you need great effort all the time.”