Written by Michael Florek
Plano East football seeks to end mastery by rival Allen, but won't have QB Mario Smalls (broken fibula)
ALLEN (4-1) VS. PLANO EAST (4-0) 7:30 p.m. today, Plano’s Kimbrough Stadium
PLANO — It was Oct. 29, 1999. Plano East took the district title by knocking off Allen, 13-2, before a homecoming crowd of 12,000 at Plano’s John Clark Field.
Johnny Ringo was coaching at Coppell, overseeing a 40-14 victory over Keller. Collin Shaw was 4 years old.
Thirteen years later, Ringo is head coach at Plano East, and Shaw is a senior wide receiver there. But the school has not beaten Allen since that night, having lost 12 straight.
The latest chance to stop the streak comes Friday, with Plano East (4-0) playing Allen before a homecoming crowd that should exceed 9,000 at Tom Kimbrough Stadium. It’s the District 10-5A opener, but it could decide the district title. Allen (4-1) is No. 3 in the SportsDayHS Class 5A area rankings. Plano East is No. 9.
Plano East is without quarterback Mario Smalls, who broke his fibula in the last game. Ringo said Smalls may be able to return by Week 9.
Sophomore Taylor McGehee rotated with Smalls three weeks ago against Flower Mound Marcus, rushing for 93 yards and two touchdowns. But he threw just one pass, which fell incomplete. It was good enough for a 38-17 victory, giving Plano East its best start since 2007.
“We felt like our JV was pretty good, had some good young kids coming, but you never know,” Ringo said. “Then we’ve gotten out of the gate pretty strong and had some momentum … then we had this two-week layoff. It’s kind of hard to gauge [where we’re at].”
In recent years, football paths have diverged for the state’s two largest schools. Allen (the second largest) won a state title in 2008. Plano East went 1-9 that year.
Since then, Allen is 35-6. Plano East is 22-14, although the Panthers almost upset eventual Class 5A Division I state champion Southlake Carroll in the first round of the playoffs last season.
“One of our deals is that we’re not going to fear any opponent or be intimidated,” Ringo said. “There’s been some times there, clearly we’re the better team.”
No game in the streak was closer than last year’s. With Allen ranked No. 1 in the country, Plano East led for most of the night but couldn’t come back from a late score, falling 42-38.
“We hung with them,” Shaw said. “We should have won that game.”
Plano East leads all area teams in total offense (539.5 yards per game), but to hang with Allen on Friday the Panthers will have to overcome one of the area’s best defenses. Allen shut out Southlake Carroll in its opening game.
Shaw has 430 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Senior running back Ricky Ilodianya has contributed 429 yards and seven touchdowns from the backfield.
“They play pretty physical on defense,” Shaw said of Allen. “They’re fast on the back end, but nothing really special.”
Because of a scheduling oddity, Plano East had two consecutive bye weeks to prepare for Allen. Ringo said he focused on fundamentals, not wanting to spend too much time on the game plan. Preparation specifically for the Eagles began this week.
At the end of Monday’s practice, as his team took a knee in front of him, Ringo turned his attention to Allen. He spoke of a great opportunity Friday night. It’s perhaps the greatest one Plano East has had in 13 years.
Follow Michael Florek on Twitter at @michaelflorek
Allen’s winning streak against Plano East, year-by-year:
Allen 21, Plano East 14
Allen 29, Plano East 20
Allen 28, Plano East 14
Allen 25, Plano East 14
Allen 48, Plano East 21
Allen 10, Plano East 3
Allen 22, Plano East 17
Allen 63, Plano East 35
Allen 30, Plano East 14
Allen 51, Plano East 28
Allen 34, Plano East 24
Allen 42, Plano East 38