BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Florida High school spring football practice began on Monday and some local teams have new head coaches.
Steve Allen begins his quest to turn around the DeLand Bulldogs.
“I like the mix of kids and the demographics here. I spent two years as an assistant here. There is a challenge of there being so many coaches that have been here with varied amounts of success.,”
Allen said. “Some haven’t had success or the stability. It’s a good job. I like Principal Mitch Moyer as a boss. I like how he does things. All those attracted me here.’’
Allen was hired in December and takes over a DeLand program that has won just four games over the past two seasons, including a 2-7 mark last season.
Vernon Shelton led the program last year. James Thomson, the coach before him, stepped down with three games remaining in the 2015 season.
“One of the biggest challenges is just overcoming what happened in recent years. This team hasn’t won much the past two years. It’s not going to be easy,” Allen related.
May 19 game
However, the Bulldogs return with plenty of talent, including safety Avantae Williams, linebacker TyShaun Woulard, quarterback/receiver/defensive back Taron Keith, linebacker Sid Elzayat, quarterback Dylin Lemons, defensive lineman Anthony Bruten and offensive linemen Jason Murphy.
DeLand will host New Smyrna Beach at Spec Martin Stadium at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 19, for its spring game.
Allen commented, “Going into spring practice, everyone is always excited when it’s a new thing going on. The kids have been training. We’ll be hitting the field. They want to get started. We want to win our spring game and build momentum for the fall.”
With 32 years of coaching experience, Allen knows what it takes to be winner.
He was head coach at a big school, Flagler Palm Coast (Class 8A now, 6A then) from 2002-2009, and at a small school in Warner Christian Academy in South Daytona (Class 2A) from 2012-2013.
He went 20-4 in two seasons at Warner with two district titles and a state semifinal appearance.
At Flagler Palm Coast, Allen went 51-35 with two district titles and four playoff appearances in five seasons between 2003 to 2007.
“It helps that I have done it. Having been a head coach coming to another program, you know what the job is. You know what it takes to build a program. You get the job because the program has had some trouble and they are looking for something. You wouldn’t get the job if it was no trouble.
You’re always rebuilding to a certain extent,’’ he explained.
To Allen, school classifications don’t matter. It’s all about numbers.
“I had kids play for me in my 2A program that played for me in a 6A program and vice versa. The level only states the numbers of kids a program has – not talent,” he remarked.
“The larger schools have more numbers to choose from. At the end of the day, it’s still football. You have to line up 11 guys, coach them, scheme, and then they have to play and execute.’’
Allen also has been an assistant coach at DeLand, Atlantic, Deerfield Beach high and West Virginia Wesleyan College.
He played football, baseball and track at Christiansburg High in Christiansburg, Va.
In college, he played football at Emory & Henry College in Emory, Va. He was elected to the Emory & Henry College Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.
Radio show analyst
Allen returns to coaching after spending a few years away.
The past two years he was a collar commentator/analyst for WELE 1380 Ormond Beach “The Cat’’ for Bethune-Cookman University football.
The experience taught Allen some lessons that can help him as a coach.
“If you’re a relatively intelligent person, you should be learning something in any situation. It kept me in the game traveling and covering the games with Cookman. Being with Cookman and the MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference), you’re watching Division I football college football league,” he explained.
“It keeps you tuned in with some things that some of our colleagues seem to have had trouble with.
I am not a young guy when it comes to coaching. I think some coaches have had trouble keeping up with the times. I enjoyed that gig and learned from the gig. I also got to see the game from another perspective.”