Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Allen seeks to end Southlake Carroll’s mastery as $59.6 million stadium debuts
Allen quarterback Oliver Pierce was in the stands at Cowboys Stadium on Nov. 21, 2009.
Freshmen at the time, Pierce and his teammates watched as Allen came up 3 yards short on a two-point conversion and lost an area-round playoff to Southlake Carroll, 35-34, in double overtime.
That tormenting loss was just the latest for Allen in a painful history against the Dragons. The Eagles are well aware of that history.
“Even before that,” Pierce said, “four more games in a row. Southlake has always had the upper hand on us, and we’re looking to change that.”
Carroll and Allen have met five times, all in the playoffs, and Carroll is unbeaten in those meetings. They met every year from 2003-06, and a 16-point loss was the closest Allen had come before the 2009 defeat.
The two programs will open the 2012 season at 7:30 p.m. Friday in front of a sold-out crowd of 21,500 at Allen’s new, $59.6 million Eagle Stadium.
General admission seats nearly sold out Wednesday, and several thousand fans had already purchased standing-room only tickets at that point.
Carroll, the defending Class 5A Division I state champion, would like nothing more than to send Allen’s frenzied crowd home disappointed.
“But we won’t be thinking about the stands too much,” Carroll quarterback Kenny Hill said. “Just winning the game.”
Carroll went 16-0 last year and hasn’t lost since Dec. 4, 2010.
Hill, a Texas A&M pledge and SportsDay’s 2011 offensive player of the year, will lead an offense that looks different from last year’s state championship team. Only four starters return, and Hill has a new crew of wide receivers.
Despite his team’s inexperience, coach Hal Wasson hopes the learning curve will be short.
“A lot of things you don’t know until you know,” he said. “You turn those lights on Friday night, I don’t care what anybody says, you don’t know ’til you know.”
Regardless of the outcome, Wasson said he won’t second-guess his decision to schedule a challenging season-opener in such a hostile environment.
Allen’s players walked into the new stadium for the first time after the school’s spring game, and linebacker Nick Cobb said they’ve been looking forward to this high-profile matchup ever since.
Cobb is one of only a handful of defensive players with starting experience. Three defensive starters, and two on offense, return.
Pierce, who is replacing Alabama signee Alec Morris, will be under center after spending the last two seasons as an inside receiver. He’s quick on his feet and said he spent most of the off-season improving his arm strength.
Protecting him will be offensive tackle Brad North, a Northwestern pledge, and several new faces.
The matchup between Allen’s offensive line and Carroll’s defensive front may decide the game, Wasson said.
If Allen’s struggles against Carroll have been tough on the players, they might have been even tougher for coach Tom Westerberg, who enters his 12th season at Allen and ninth as the head coach.
“You learn in this business that kids can forget games pretty quick,” Westerberg said, “but they can hang with us for a while. … We haven’t won one yet, we’re 0-5 [against Carroll]. Friday is the next time we play them, and we’re going to keep going after it until we break through.”
Follow David Just on Twitter at @DavidJustDMN.