BRADENTON — Courtney Allen thought he was going to have a relatively easy night; play on special teams and maybe get a few carries.
The Southeast High freshman was right. He only had five carries and didn’t get his first one until the fourth quarter. But it’s what he did with his limited opportunity that separated him from everyone else on the field.
Allen ran for 200 yards and scored three touchdowns to help Southeast pull away from Sarasota Booker enroute to a 62-32 Class 3A-District 10 victory, Friday night at John Kiker Memorial Stadium.
It leaves the Noles (5-2, 2-0) as the only undefeated team in its district and puts them in the driver’s seat. They are in control of their own destiny and can win it outright with victories over Lemon Bay and Bayshore in the coming weeks.
As a bonus, Southeast found a backup running back they were looking for to give Brian Poole some relief and let him play more at defensive back, where he makes the Noles’ secondary solid.
The 5-foot-5, 165-pound Allen had played sparingly this season in part because the coaches were worried about his ability to hold onto the ball. He had two fumbles earlier in the season in a tough loss to Manatee.
But this time, Allen zipped past the Booker defenders so fast they didn’t have much of a chance to try and strip the ball, and when he went through heavy traffic he had a tight grip on the ball.
“My offensive line did a good job blocking and I gave them what they were looking for,” Allen said. “I wasn’t worried about the fumbles. My coaches told me to keep my head up and just move on to the next play and that is what I did.
“This game did gain a lot of confidence for me. In Pop Warner I had a few games like that. But those were my first touchdowns ever in high school. On the long runs I saw the linebackers blitzing inside and I picked up on their mistakes. I didn’t expect to play much tonight so it was nice.”
Poole was the workhorse for Southeast. The junior gained 125 yards on 18 carries and caught three passes for nine yards while putting time in at defensive back. He scored on touchdown runs of five and 22 yards.
Poole scored his last TD with 10:53 left in the game to give Southeast a commanding 35-12 lead.
After Reggie White intercepted a pass, Allen entered the game, picked up 17 yards on his first carry and then scored his first touchdown on a 9-yard run with 9:57 left.
After Booker (4-3, 1-1) scored, Allen exploded on a 69-yard TD run on the Noles’ first offensive play. Desmond Blue recovered a Booker fumble and on the next play Allen scored from 34 yards out to push the lead to 48-18.
Booker followed with a touchdown and Allen answered right back on the Noles first play following the score when he broke free on a 71-yard TD jaunt.
Dyron Speight had a productive night for the Noles connecting on 11 of 15 passes for 177 yards and two TD passes (to Boe Brand and Adrian Richard).
“This game was a nice track meet,” Southeast head coach Paul Maechtle said.
“We always felt we had a good backup running back in Courtney. We just haven’t been able to get him on the field where we could let him show his stuff. Now he has some experience and we don’t have to worry so much about using him.
“We found a few things out about our team tonight and might be able to use him with Poole. They have a real good passing game and gave us some problems, but when we had to we stopped them down there are couple of times.”