Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Elite wrestler Oliver Pierce set to make his mark under center for Allen football
The night before an Allen football game, senior quarterback Oliver Pierce will be with teammates feasting on a pregame dinner. The night before Pierce wrestled for junior national titles in Fargo, N.D., this summer, he took his solitary run to make sure he made his weight the next morning.
Pierce has become accustomed to weaving the sports together. Pierce will be Allen’s 5-9, 170-pound quarterback when the Eagles open their season Aug. 31 before an expected sellout crowd of more than 18,000 in the inaugural game at Allen’s $60 million stadium against defending Class 5A Division I state champion Southlake Carroll.
On Tuesday, Pierce won the 152-pound division at the Junior Nationals Greco-Roman finals in Fargo, adding that to the folkstyle title he captured earlier this year. He just missed winning a rare USA Wrestling Triple Crown, losing Friday by a point in the semifinals of the Junior Nationals freestyle competition.
Pierce, an eight-time All-American, is set to sign with Oklahoma on a wrestling scholarship this fall. He spends his weekends alternating between 7-on-7 and wrestling tournaments.
“I tell him he’s the only kid who is going to feel like he gets a break in his schedule when he goes to college,” said Pierce’s dad, Geno. “He’s been doing both sports for so long, it’s a normal summer day for him to lift weights with the football guys in the morning, practice 7-on-7 in the afternoon and go to a couple hours of wrestling at night.”
Pierce was a first-team all-district wide receiver for Allen last season but moves to quarterback for his final season with the Eagles. Pierce was in a quarterback competition before Alec Morris (a 2012 Alabama signee) got the nod two years ago.
Pierce was Allen’s second-leading receiver last year with 50 catches for 601 yards and six touchdowns. Pierce throws well enough, but it’s his leadership, intensity and toughness that will make him Allen’s next starting quarterback after a decade has produced five consecutive major college quarterbacks with Casey and Nathan Dick, Matt Brown, Tucker Carter and Morris.
Pierce’s ability to run Allen’s pass-oriented, spread-formation offense comes from his conditioning, superior quickness and skills that he hones as a high-quality wrestler.
Pierce may be the only Class 5A quarterback who will return kicks and punts and also has played defensive end.
“I had two sacks and a forced fumble as a sophomore,” Pierce said. “I’m sure it looked funny. I was a 155-pound sophomore, and my jersey was too big to fit me, and I’m going against the big offensive linemen we play. But you’re face-to-face like wrestling, and the hand-fighting and footwork to get past someone is just like it is on the line. I don’t think there’s any way you could be a wrestler and it not make you a better football player.”
Pierce has become nationally known for his tenacity as a wrestler. At the Fargodome (the indoor football stadium for North Dakota State), Pierce advanced through his matches with dominating performances, which included having an opponent lose consciousness while trying to get out of Pierce’s headlock.
Geno Pierce is known across the state for his Performance Course training regimens used at Allen, Carroll, Aledo and by others who implement it for off-season conditioning programs. Geno grew up in Oklahoma, where wrestling is a competitive staple.
But Geno was a football and basketball player. Oliver came by wrestling when he caught some matches on television when he was in grade school.
“Having lived in Oklahoma, I knew enough about wrestling to get Oliver started,” Geno said. “He just loves the challenge of it. He’s so competitive. It’s just you and the other wrestler. He thrives on that.”
Under the coaching of Jerry Best and Evan Bernstein, Allen has blossomed into one of the state’s top wrestling programs. Pierce was the UIL state runner-up at 152 pounds last season.
Geno Pierce said Oliver also has been able to deconstruct some wrestling obstacles in a football-oriented state with his ease of transition from his football weight to his wrestling weight.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about that,” Geno said. “It’s learning how to control water weight for the weigh-in. By the time wrestlers compete, they’ve usually already gained weight back. Oliver can put back 10 to 15 pounds with water and his diet in a couple days. Wrestlers are in incredible [physical] condition, and the football coaches have seen that.”
Allen’s football season from August to December is Pierce’s full-time focus. Most of his wrestling comes with the double-duty of off-season football in the spring.
“Football is the most fun sport you can play,” Oliver said. “You get excited with your teammates. It’s such a big deal at the games. I love the way in wrestling that it’s just you against the other wrestler. They’re both the same in the way you prepare. You focus the same way. I imagine how it’s going to happen in my mind. Then you go out and try and do it.”