Has it really been 14 years since Stan Allen and I were roaming the football sidelines in Newton County?
It’s hard to believe, but that is the case. Allen, who is part of David Wagner’s new coaching staff at Winder-Barrow High School, is someone I hadn’t talked to in many years, but when we came face-to-face again recently in the halls of WBHS, it was like the gap in time didn’t exist.
Once upon a time, Allen was an assistant coach at Newton High School in Covington. He was cutting his teeth in the coaching profession and while he wasn’t a rookie, he was somewhat close.
Likewise, I was still cutting my teeth as a professional sports writer. Like Allen, I wasn’t a rookie, but I was still somewhat inexperienced at what I was doing.
Allen (who also was part of the Newton High School baseball coaching staff) and I had many talks in those days. Sports, school and life in general were some of the things we would pass the time talking about before games or after practices.
I knew he had been coaching and teaching in Rockdale County for a while, but even though I often saw his teams compete, I hadn’t had the opportunity to catch up with my friend.
When Wagner announced who he was bringing on board as part of the Bulldogg coaching staff, one name immediately stood out to me: Stan Allen. I knew it had to be the same person I knew all those seasons ago, but I asked Wagner just to be sure.
Wagner had plenty to brag about when it came to Allen, noting several area schools wanted to hire him as part of their football coaching staffs.
“We felt fortunate to get him,” Wagner said.
“He brings a ton of experience to the table.”
One of the elements Wagner immediately looked into after taking the WBHS job, was to build a top-notch coaching staff. So often, this aspect of a high school football program is overlooked.
In coaching for several years with Apalachee High School head coach Shane Davis, Wagner knows firsthand what a coaching staff means to a program. He wants to bring stability within the ranks of the coaches and he looked to hire the best group of assistanats he could.
“Coach Allen fits just what we needed for our staff,” Wagner said when announcing his hires.
“Coaches like him will help us build the type of program we want to have.”
Allen, who always seems to be in a upbeat mood, certainly has the same personality in 2010 as he did in 1997, when I last worked with him. With an everpresent grin, he remarked how I had much more gray hair than he did. The two of us still have a lot of catching up to do, but it will be easier with him coaching and teaching locally.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, it takes patience for a successful football program to be built. It takes patience as the bricks are installed, one by one.
The hiring of Allen will be one of the bricks Wagner will benefit from as he looks to take the Bulldoggs to a new level. A variety of reasons have gone into why WBHS has not enjoyed a great deal of success since the Phil Jones era. That would make for another column.
One thing for sure, however, is that Bulldogg fans can rest assured good times are ahead. It won’t happen overnight but a formula is in place to get it done. The hiring of Stan Allen may not have sent waves through Barrow County, but those who know him can testify to what the hire means.
Chris Bridges is sports editor of the Barrow Journal. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.