Grant Allen makes smooth switch from JV to varsity QB

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NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANTHONY REYES @NWATONYR Springdale Har-Ber against Rogers Heritage Friday, Nov. 4, 2016 at Wildcat Stadium in Springdale.

Grant Allen is still enjoying great success playing quarterback at Har-Ber High School in Springdale, Arkansas. But at this late stage of the season, the talented sophomore is making his mark with the varsity football team.
Opening the year as the starting JV quarterback, Allen helped his team go 7-1 before being elevated to the varsity.
“I was a little surprised at first,” he said of the promotion. “But at the same time, I was kind of expecting it because I had a really good season with the JV team and the coaches really liked what I was doing.”

Impressive debut

The Har-Ber varsity coaches have to be thrilled with Allen’s performance in his first two games with the Wildcats. While sparking a pair of lopsided wins, Allen has completed 19 of 23 passes for 331 yards. The 6-foot, 170-pounder has also thrown 4 touchdown passes and has not been intercepted.
“I just have confidence in myself,” Allen said. “When the coach called my name, I’ve just tried to lead the team the best I could.”
He had the same mindset before being moved up to varsity. “Playing JV, I was fine with that because there were older guys ahead of me and they deserved to play varsity,” Allen said. “But as the season went on, I got a lot better and kept fighting and they finally called my name.”
Har-Ber is one of the best teams in Arkansas and with an 8-2 record, the Wildcats are highly ranked in the state’s largest school (7-A) division. With Allen now under center, they look to be even better.
“I’m just working hard and doing the best job I can,” Allen said. “It’s a lot different. Varsity is a lot faster and the decision making has to be a lot quicker. Everyone’s bigger. It’s different, but I’m having a lot of fun.”
Har-Ber is enjoying a first-round playoff bye, and Allen has only one goal when the Wildcats get back on the field in the second round. “Get to state and hopefully win,” he said.
Before he was tabbed to run Har-Ber’s offense, Allen was the Wildcats’ varsity punter. Playing quarterback is where he really wants to be.
“Just the leadership role, the decision making, those are things I really like to do,” Allen said.

Duel success

Prior to the season, Allen received his first Duel invite and finished second among incoming sophomores at NFA’s international competition in Massillon, Ohio.
“It gave me a lot of confidence,” he said. “I didn’t really know what to expect at the Duel, but after finishing second it kind of propelled me into the season. I kept working hard and here I am now starting for the varsity.”
Allen started training with NFA in the eighth grade. “They’ve taught me a lot through all the drills and all the leadership teaching,” he said. “Knowing how to self correct, it’s really helped me a lot to improve as a quarterback.”

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Scot Gregor is an award-winning sportswriter for the Chicago Daily Herald. In addition to writing about Big 10 and Notre Dame football, Gregor has also covered the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and college basketball. He grew up in Pittsburgh and watched the Steelers rise to prominence in the 1970s. Gregor has a B.S. degree in Journalism from Ohio University

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