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Southlake Carroll’s Owen Allen is ready to make history and prove doubters wrong

The do-it-all running back needs 2,073 yards to claim the all-time Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex career rushing record.

The bus ride from Odessa to Southlake takes about five hours. It’s not the most scenic road trip — especially late on a Friday night — though the good vibes spurred by a 41-point win on this September evening in 2019 were enough to boost Southlake Carroll’s football team back from West Texas to the metroplex.

Good vibes for some. Not necessarily for all.

Because there sat Riley Dodge, in his second season as the head coach of his alma mater, who spent the ensuing hours after a 48-7 win over Odessa Permian in something of a crisis mode. Carroll, state title hopefuls, had lost its top two running backs to injuries earlier that night.

“We’re driving back home on that bus, and me and my offensive coordinator, Chris Smith, were sitting around like, ‘Dang, what do we do?’' Dodge said. “We have this young, talented quarterback [future Texas signal caller Quinn Ewers, then a sophomore], but he needs a running mate.”

Southlake Carroll rising senior Owen Allen looks at the camera as he tosses a football...
Southlake Carroll rising senior Owen Allen looks at the camera as he tosses a football between his hands in the Dragons’ indoor practice facility in Southlake on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022.(Liesbeth Powers / Staff Photographer)

Smith finally made the call. A call that, really, no 6A football coach wants to make, but one that looks like something of genius years later.

“We’ve got to go with the freshman,” Smith said at the time.

Owen Allen, that break-in-case-of-emergency freshman ball carrier, rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown in his first varsity start one week later against Keller.

“And the rest is history,” Dodge said.

History, indeed.

Allen, who begins his final high school preseason Monday, enters his senior year with 5,474 career rushing yards — more than any active player in Texas, according to MaxPreps data — 83 rushing touchdowns and the Southlake Carroll all-time rushing record already in hand.

Even more history is within his reach, too. Allen, 6-0, 205 pounds, needs 2,073 yards rushing to pass Wylie East’s Eno Benjamin (7,546) for the all-time Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex career rushing record, according to The Dallas Morning News’ archives. A third-consecutive 2,000-yard season would safely place Allen among the state’s top-25 all-time leading rushers, too. He’d need 2,773 yards this fall to pass Lamar Consolidated’s Jacquizz Rodgers (8,246 yards) for 10th all time in state history, per Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.

He’s done it all for Southlake Carroll, an eight-time state champion with title aspirations this season. And though his gaudy offensive output hasn’t resulted in a Power Five scholarship offer, Allen’s vision hasn’t strayed.

“It’s easy to take credit, being the guy that holds the stats,” said Allen, who’s rushed for 100 yards or more in 30 different games since 2019. “The teams around me have been changing, but I haven’t changed, not one bit. The offensive line every year, the coaching staff every year, they give me the material and I just execute it.”

Southlake Carroll running back Owen Allen (2) is brought down by Rockwall-Heath’s Peyton...
Southlake Carroll running back Owen Allen (2) is brought down by Rockwall-Heath’s Peyton WIiiiams (31) and Layne Horak (20) during the first half of a high school football game at Wilkerson-Sanders Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, in Rockwall. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News)(Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer)

‘He’s tough as nails’

Kaden Anderson remembers what Allen looked like in that halftime locker room.

It was their freshman year, in the second round of the playoffs versus DeSoto, and Carroll held a 17-7 lead through two quarters. Allen, who’d finish his freshman season with 1,266 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns, was beaten up and bloodied after two periods of physical play against another area power.

“He was taking a beating that game,” Anderson said. “They knew he was a freshman. They were hitting him after the play, being dirty. It’s halftime, and he’s bleeding, and I go up to him in the locker room like, ‘Dude, you’re all beat up.’ And he was just like, ‘I just want to win this game.’

“He’s tough as nails.”

Carroll won, 37-15, as Ewers starred with a five-touchdown performance. That was Allen’s first brush with DeSoto as a player. But it was another Carroll versus DeSoto showdown — one seven years prior — that might best explain why the bruises and gashes didn’t sway him as a freshman.

Dec. 8, 2012. SMU’s Ford Field. Class 5A Div. I regional finals. DeSoto 49. Southlake Carroll 45.

“Oh God, I remember it like it was yesterday,” said Allen, who watched the game from the stands as an elementary schooler. “Kenny [Hill] rolled out, tucked the ball in, ran out, dove for the end zone and they called him short. There was an uproar, DeSoto went on [to win]. I remember bawling my eyes out, being five or six years old.

“That kind of emotion, even when my playing time was still 10 years away, I think that kind of speaks to how important this is to us, and how much we want it.”

Since Allen became Carroll’s starting running back in Week 4 of the 2019 season, he’s played in 39 games and missed just one start due to injury. He has — through the evolutions and revolutions of his team around him — remained the constant.

Ewers, due to injury, played in just eight of Carroll’s 14 games in 2020. Allen, a sophomore, didn’t miss a start and rushed for 2,063 yards and 28 touchdowns as Carroll made it to the 6A Div. I state championship game. And when Ewers skipped his senior season and enrolled at Ohio State a year early last summer, Allen steadied the ship as Anderson — one of his best friends since middle school — went from third-stringer to starting quarterback. Allen rushed for 2,145 yards and 32 touchdowns as a junior, missed his first-ever varsity game, and helped Carroll reach the 6A Div. I state semifinals.

“Thank goodness for our program that we have Owen,” said Dodge, who’s spent three of his four years as Carroll’s head coach with Allen on his roster. “A guy that can take a heavy load, and take a lot of pressure off of our quarterback room.”

Southlake Carroll running back Owen Allen (2) gives a stiff arm to Eaton safety Aric Wood...
Southlake Carroll running back Owen Allen (2) gives a stiff arm to Eaton safety Aric Wood (10) during the first half in a District 4-6A high school football game played at Northwest ISD Stadium on Thursday, October 21, 2021, in Justin. (Steve Nurenberg/Special Contributor)(Steve Nurenberg / Special Contributor)

‘He’s done it better than anybody’

So you look at Allen’s career numbers in awe. You look at the jersey Allen’s worn while carding those numbers, and you understand he didn’t just do this anywhere. Then you see the competition he’s faced and flattened — 115 yards and two touchdowns against Duncanville as a freshman, 218 yards and four touchdowns against Rockwall-Heath as a sophomore, 144 yards and three touchdowns against Allen as a junior — and realize the statistics are far from empty.

Then you look at his recruitment.

Hmm.

Allen, per 247Sports.com, is an unranked recruit and holds offers from just three schools: Army, Navy and Air Force.

And sure, the idea of Allen in a triple-option offense at West Point or Annapolis is a bit tantalizing as a football purist, though the college interest isn’t exactly what you’d expect for a player who’s done what Allen has at one of the country’s premier football programs.

“I think he’s been ridiculously underrated,” Dodge said. “I don’t think his recruitment is over, either. But college recruiting as a whole, the landscape as it is, I think it’s hurt him, it’s hurt the high school running back. Because you can just go to the portal and find a kid [with college experience]. But it’s unbelievable, the people who have overlooked him and won’t pull the trigger on him.

“The proof is in the pudding. He’s done it better than anybody in the state of Texas.”

Southlake Carroll rising senior Owen Allen stands in the Dragons’ indoor practice facility...
Southlake Carroll rising senior Owen Allen stands in the Dragons’ indoor practice facility in Southlake on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022.(Liesbeth Powers / Staff Photographer)

Allen admitted that, yes, his recruitment has been a bit frustrating. But he’s thankful for the three military schools, noted how beautiful the campuses are, and then quickly circled back to state that his focus at Carroll is not scholarship offers, but winning games.

He’s done that, too. Carroll is 36-4 since Allen’s insertion into the starting lineup. He hopes to add a ninth trophy to Carroll’s collection this December.

“Having come close sophomore year, coming up short the year after that,” Allen said. “This is the fourth and final shot. Getting back to the state championship this year, to seal the deal with the team we have, the coaches we have, it would mean the world. That would be the perfect way, in my eyes, to end my time here at Carroll.”

It’s all about winning, right? For Allen, that’s the case. But the often-diplomatic running back does have a message for college coaches, though.

“I wish them the best of luck,” Allen said. “And I hope they see me playing for one of their rival schools. You’ve got to make them pay, right?”

Allen’s career numbers, by the season:

YearRushing yardsTouchdownsCarroll’s record
20212,1453214-1
20202,0632812-2
20191,2662313-1

Top returning Dallas-area 6A rushing leaders:

PlayersSchoolRushing yards in 2021Rushing touchdowns in 2021
Owen AllenSouthlake Carroll2,14532
Landen ChambersKeller Fossil Ridge1,66225
Jaylon BurtonDenton Braswell1,65318
Keldric LusterMcKinney1,43422
AJ NewberrySouth Grand Prairie1,18420

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