By MARK TRIBLE
Glory Days Football Writer
MEDFORD — Prior to kickoff here on Friday night, Millville football coach Dennis Thomas felt his team could be in shape to score five times, maybe six.
His star tailback did that on his own in the Mall Chevrolet Game of the Week.
Syracuse commit LeQuint Allen took it early and often and made a home in the end zone for the Thunderbolts in a 49-39 road win over Shawnee.
Allen ran 35 times for 304 yards with five touchdowns. He also caught a score. He grabbed an interception. He did most everything shy of playing in the band for Millville (3-0), the No. 2-ranked club in The South Jersey Football Frenzy Show Best 11 rankings.
“We came out here and did what we had to do,” the senior said. “The goal was to go 1-0 and that’s what we did.”
On the first possession of the game, Allen made his presence felt. He skied over a teammate and a foe for that interception. The next drive ended with the same No. 1 in white, blue and orange in the air with the football in hand.
This one came in the end zone from Nate Robbins. The ninth-ranked Renegades (1-1) responded with a Matt Welsey sneak from a yard out on 4th-and-Goal to make it 7-7. Then, the Thunderbolts cranked it up. Allen added two more scores and freshman wideout sensation Lotzeir Brooks hauled in one of his own prior to intermission.
It stood 28-10 at halftime. A long and touchdown-filled second half awaited those in attendance — yet Shawnee never climbed closer than 10 points.
“Yeah, it’s OK, it’s alright,” Thomas said after the victory. “You look at it — we had penalty after penalty after penalty and then our defense gave up so many points.
“It’s fine to get the win but it’s really not about winning right now. It’s about positioning ourselves the right way so that we get a one seed in the playoff. And then the championship has to run through the ’Ville. So, that’s basically the goal.”
In years past, Thomas has invented new ways to coax the most out of his editions. Some years, he’s sent messages to the roster with playing time. He’s scheduled top teams to get stiff tests early to build confidence.
This year, he’s got some different considerations.
“They’re special, we have really talented kids,” the coach said. “You know, a lot of people could have this team and do wonders with them.
“I challenge myself to make sure I put them in the right position. I have to make sure, how am I going to get this kid the ball? How am I going to get this kid the ball?”
These are problems most football coaches would love to have. Robbins is a terrific high school signal caller. Brooks is excellent as well. The other receivers also step up and make plays when called on.
It’s pick your poison. Sit back and cover the talented pass game if you wish — here comes LeQuint.
Behind a solid line of Marcus Offer, Edison Andino, George Gonzalez, Achan Harris Jr. and Darian Blachewicz, Allen continued to batter and bury the defense.
“That O-Line man, they were knocking them back,” Allen said. “Every time they said down. Every cadence, they were knocking them back.
“Man on man, I just did what I do … I know our offense is dangerous. They don’t have to just stop me — they have to stop us.”
So far, that appears a task few are excited to try. Due to COVID, Highland — next week’s foe — could not play. So, Millville burned up the phone lines. Coaches weren’t exactly at Thomas’ door begging for a date.
Whether or not the Thunderbolts get a game, they will host No. 3 St. Augustine (2-1) in two weeks in what is likely to be one of South Jersey’s biggest tilts of 2021.
Until then, all they could do was look back at a three-hour-plus marathon that featured Allen and the OBG — Orange Blue Gang — with a big win over a program that had their number in recent years.
“I just knew when it was crunch time, (Thomas) was going to give it to me to get those first downs and get those touchdowns we needed to win the game,” Allen said.
The former great tailback could only express his remembrance of such games in his varsity days at Salem High School.
Thomas showed that wide, pearly smile that only he can flash.
“I remember those days,” Thomas said before he erupted in laughter. “But listen, I scored seven touchdowns in a game. He only got six.”
Mark Trible covers high school football for Glory Days Magazine. Check out his weekly Facebook Live show every Wednesday at 7 p.m. The South Jersey Football Frenzy Show can be seen at facebook.com/acglorydays