Tarleton State defensive end Andre Allen knows how difficult it is for friends and family to make the two-hour drive to Memorial Stadium in Stephenville to watch him play.
So this Saturday, he’s coming to them and looks to help the Texans get one more win this season.
Tarleton takes on Ouachita Baptist in the Communities Helping Americans Mature Progress and Succeed Heart of Texas Bowl at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Bulldawg Stadium in Copperas Cove.
“People are going to come see me play that haven’t had a chance to come all the way to Stephenville,” Allen said. “I am excited, it gives them a chance to come see me play in three years.”
Tarleton finished the 2013 season with a 5-1 record in the Lone Star Conference and shared the conference title with Eastern New Mexico.
The showing was good enough to help the Texans earn an invitation to the Heart of Texas Bowl, Tarleton’s first bowl appearance since beating Benedictine (Kan.) 40-38 in the 1986 Sunflower Bowl.
“It’s a great feeling to know that people can come watch me play 15 minutes away,” Allen said.
For Allen, the bowl will serve as the culmination of a successful junior year in which the defensive end took more of a leadership role on the team.
And it serves as a chance of redemption after the Texans were blown out by North Alabama 44-7 on their home field.
“We get to send our seniors out the right way and with one more game on our schedule, we still get to practice and we still get to come out and have fun,” Allen said. “It is extremely exciting to know that we can play one more game and get to extend our season into December.”
Allen arrived at the NCAA Division II school in Stephenville in 2011 after a career at Ellison in which he garnered All-District 12-5A second teams honors as a senior, was an honorable mention as a junior and was named an academic All-District selection in 2009.
Allen said that he had some great memories at Ellison and since the Eagles never made it to the postseason during his time on campus, he appreciates the opportunity to play in the bowl game.
“I’ve never been able to go to the postseason in my football career so it does feel a lot better,” Allen said.
Tarleton defensive Chris Mineo said that Allen’s versatility has been a big key to helping him fit into the defensive scheme.
“The thing he does best is his ability to play hard throughout the course of the game,” Mineo said.
Allen enjoyed a breakout season as a junior in 2012 in which he recorded 23 tackles, including 12 unassisted, had a forced fumble and 1.5 sacks. That came after a freshman season in which he had six tackles.
Mineo said he looked forward to having Allen and the majority of the defensive line coming back next season.
The Heart of Texas Bowl doubleheader gets underway at 11 a.m. Saturday when Trinity Valley Community College takes on Mesa (Ariz.) Community College. The Tarleton State vs. Ouachita Baptist game will be the back end of the double header.
Other local players
In addition to Allen, the Texans will also feature sophomore wide receiver and former Gatesville standout Le’Nard Meyers who leads Tarleton with 731 yards and four touchdowns on 58 receptions.
Former Florence Buffalo Ben Katzemeyer is a junior linebacker on the Texans.
TVCC will bring a large contingent of former athletes from the area as freshman offensive lineman De’Andre Banks (Harker Heights), freshman wide receiver Derick Bates (Belton), freshman linebacker Seth Culp (Temple), freshman offensive lineman Reggie Harris (Killeen), freshman wide receiver Devarri McCray (Killeen) and freshman defensive back Ed’Derick McDonald (Belton) are all listed on the team’s roster.
A limited number of complimentary tickets still remain and are available at all area Bush’s Chicken restaurants and must be picked up before Saturday.
Tickets will be $20 for reserved seating and $10 for general admission on game day.