Elijah Fisher’s decision to move from tight end to defensive end for his senior season at Allen was made for the betterment of the team.
“It wasn’t really a ‘me’ decision,” he said. “I told (the Eagles’ coaching staff), ‘If I can help you out at any other position, please put me there.’ I’d rather win first than worry about myself.”
Fisher’s move from the offensive to the defensive side of the ball continued to bear fruit Friday night. He had three quarterback sacks, a quarterback hurry that forced an incomplete pass and a strip sack that led to an Allen touchdown, as the Eagles overcame a slow start, on their way to a 38-24 non-district victory over Dickinson at Eagle Stadium.
“When I first started at d-end, Coach (Bryan) Kelley, he said, ‘Just play. You’re a football player, go play,’” Fisher said. “After I got out of the whole mind-set that I have to do everything perfect, do it my way, execution, alignment-sound, as they say, it was a clear path to me.”
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A few of Fisher’s plays from his new position on the field helped Allen to turn around a game in which they trailed 7-0 on a 74-yard pass play from Dickinson quarterback Mike Welch to Darryl Harris on the very first offensive play.
Welch completed 12-of-23 passes for 224 yards before being replaced by Marlon Allen in the second half.
But, Fisher’s finger prints were all over this one. After Raylen Sharpe completed a 2-yard touchdown to Blaine Green on a fade route, to tie the score at 7-7 with 3:54 remaining in the first quarter, Fisher made one of the game’s biggest plays with his strip sack of Allen. Michael Onwuzurike recovered the fumble at the Dickinson 28. Four plays later, Sharpe hooked up with Green for their second touchdown, a 10-yard pass, for a 14-7 lead.
“I was expecting them to pass there,” Fisher said. “I read my queues from the tackle that I saw there. First thing I did was split out, widen out a little bit in my alignment. I pinned my ears back and took off.”
Allen coach Terry Gambill expected Fisher to play at this high of a level at defensive end from the get-go.
“He was elected by his peers as a captain,” Gambill said. “He brings a lot of energy every day to practice. He has a lot of leadership. I love what he does in a leadership role. He’s positive. He comes to work every day with a lot of energy and then he goes out and it shows on the field.”
Dickinson tied the game at 14 when Jathan Caldwell was left wide open on a 26-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter but the Gators couldn’t overcome 17 untimely penalties for 133 yards and two lost fumbles.
Allen (2-0) answered with three straight touchdowns – a 70-yard pass from Sharpe to Darrion Sherfield, a 68-yard burst by Jordan Johnson and a 9-yard pass from Sharpe to Blaine Green – as the Eagles built a 35-14 lead in the third quarter.
An ankle injury limited Sharpe on the number of runs attempted but he still threw for 218 yards and three touchdowns with all three being caught by twin brothers Bryson and Blaine Green.
“Our connection has gotten very tight,” Sharpe said of his passing connection with the Green brothers. “We were off a little today, but we’ll go back and get it fixed.”
Dickinson (1-1) didn’t go away quietly. The Gators capitalized on a lost fumble and interception by Allen to get back to within 35-24 late in the third quarter. Guillermo Garcia Rodriguez kicked a 37-yard field goal and Ausaru Allah followed with a 6-yard TD run less than three minutes later. But, that’s as close as Dickinson got.