He made the All-Tri-River Athletic Conference team as a sophomore running back in 2014, a rare achievement for someone of that grade in an elite league.
So naturally, Samir Allen was sure to attend, with punctuality, every Clovis High practice, team dinner and game as a junior.
And he did, unfailingly.
In a wheelchair.
Then on crutches.
And finally, in a walking boot.
The Cougars would tie for the TRAC title, place second to Liberty-Bakersfield for the Central Section Division I championship and finish 11-2.
Swell, but sans Allen, the little guy whose lower left leg failed to withstand a tackle by a much larger defensive end on the team’s first day of contact in early August 2015.
He replays the 8:40 a.m. incident now: “The D-end wrapped me up, I tried to continue with my feet and finish the play, but it ended weird. My (left) foot stuck in the ground, I tried to twist and spin, and there it went.”
And, yes, there it went, Allen’s junior season.
You kind of get that feeling it’s not moving anymore and (the bone) feels disconnected. You twist and hear the snaps, cracks and pops.
Samir Allen, on breaking his leg on the first day of contact practice in August 2015
He knew it immediately: “You kind of get that feeling it’s not moving anymore and (the bone) feels disconnected. You twist and hear the snaps, cracks and pops.”
And you ask the obvious: “What am I going to do next? Like a stack of cards, you build it up and … ”
He doesn’t complete the thought at near noon this week on campus in Room P19 with his coach, Rich Hammond, sitting behind a desk nearby.
Allen would have surgery a week later at Valley Children’s Hospital.
Then, at a Clovis Unified school that typically has 50 to 60 cheerleaders between the 20-yard lines, he would become the most faithful of all, only in jeans.
Practice, meals, games, anything.
And Hammond makes this clear: “I didn’t demand it; he just did it.”
Says Allen: “I support all those guys whether I was playing or not. And it was a pleasure to be with them on the sideline every day at practice and during games.”
The pleasure is mutual now, for Allen is back and flying.
Clovis is 3-0, top-ranked in the section by The Fresno Bee and a “bubble” Cal-Hi Sports Top 25 team in the state. All would be unlikely without Allen entering Friday night’s nonleague showdown at No. 11 Stockdale (3-0).
“Our home-run hitter,” says Hammond, coincidentally, in a classroom 50 feet behind the right-center-field fence of Lloyd Merriman Baseball Field, which houses one of the nation’s finest prep baseball programs. “And Samir has an infectious personality, a smile on his face that picks everybody else up. It’s amazing.”
127 Rushing yards for Clovis’ Samir Allen in a 35-27 showdown win over Bullard
Allen went deep often in Friday’s 35-28 win over No. 5 Bullard, directly impacting four of five Cougars touchdowns in a 127-yard rushing night, including a decisive 10-yard touchdown in the final minutes at Lamonica Stadium.
The Cougars’ football program, as in baseball, is rich in history, with eight section titles – the last in 2002.
But this is where it gets dicey at Fowler and Barstow avenues.
While Hammond, a San Jose State engineering major now 61-27 (.693) in eight seasons at Clovis, has long stabilized a ship in stunning peril when he arrived from Gilroy High in 2009, this is a school amid an agonizing wait at the section D-I threshold.
Clovis has reached the semifinals in five of the past six seasons. And what an irony it would be if a 5-foot-8 (admittedly, “on a good day,” Allen says), 150-pound running back ultimately returned the team to the section mountaintop.
Many of the most distinguished Cougars of the past and present have been big and brawny.
Example: Allen routinely motors behind left tackle Seth Nevills, a 6-4, 275-pound junior, two-year state wrestling champion at 90-0 and brother of heavyweight Nick, a former three-time state wrestling champ now at NCAA power Penn State.
Hammond reviews the running style of Allen, the team’s only player from elementary school feeder Sierra Vista: “What’s unique about him for a 5-8, 150-pound guy, he can run between the tackles and outside. A lot of time, those speed guys run outside and not inside, but that’s not the case with Samir. He has vision and ability, so smooth. When he runs he kind of glides, and that’s what makes him special.
“And, he’s got to be brave, running against those 300-pounders up front and 200-pound linebackers.”
Allen did just that with success against one of the top inside linebacker tandems in the section in Bullard’s Ben Baker and Cameron Lamanuzzi.
Further, a year this side of the dreadful “snap, crackle and pop.”
Three weeks after making his first carry in two years in a season-opening 36-0 homefield win over Burbank-Sacramento in which he rushed for 57 yards and a touchdown, he says: “It’s been a definite mental challenge to get through it, but I’m getting comfortable, and all the things I was used to are starting to come back. My confidence is growing every week.
“It’s a roller coaster; you never know what’s going to happen.”