Allen hired as new Barnesville football coach

BARNESVILLE — Blake Allen understands what football — and all of the sports at Barnesville High School — means to the community.

After all, the 27-year old was raised there, went to school there and now teaches there.

He also understands that when something isn’t broke, there’s no need to fix it.

Those are just a few of the selling points, which made him the ideal candidate to replace Matt Johnson as the Shamrocks’ head football coach.

Allen was formally hired as the new Barnesville head coach during Thursday evening’s board of education meeting.

“I am thrilled to have this opportunity,” Allen said. “I grew up here, graduated from here, my wife (Carissa) and her family all went here. Our kids are going to go here. We have a lot of pride in this community and I am excited for the chance to lead this football program.”

Johnson actually approached Allen shortly after the season ended and told him that he was thinking of stepping down. He was hopeful Allen would be willing, and able, to take the job.

“Matt felt comfortable stepping away with the hopes that I would take over and continue a lot of what we’d established as a staff,” Allen admitted. “I wasn’t actively looking or anything. I did tell him that some day I had hoped to get a chance (to be the head coach), but it wasn’t something I needed to do right now. It just sort of happened.”

Allen is no stranger to the Shamrock Stadium sidelines. He’s spent the last two seasons as Johnson’s offensive coordinator. Last season, the Shamrocks finished 9-2, advanced to the regional semifinals and won the OVAC Class 3A title.

“There aren’t going to be whole-sale changes in the program,” Allen said. “Matt had established a philosophy and all of the core values that you need in a successful program. It’s pretty simple. You achieve success when you’re willing to work hard every single day and put the team before yourself. We’ll continue to stress that to the kids.”

While much of what the Shamrocks do will remain the same, Allen admits that he’s going to put his finger print on the program, too.

“I am OK with very little change, but I am going to do things my way,” Allen said. “Matt’s built a successful program, so there’s no need to re-invent the wheel, but there will be some subtle tweaks to things.”

After graduating high school in 2007, Allen attended Muskingum University where he played four years of football. He was the Muskies’ tight end and served as a team captain during his senior season. He earned a bachelor’s degree in language arts in 2011.

Allen’s first teaching and coaching job came that fall when he was hired at Frontier. He taught and worked as a junior high football coach as well as basketball and baseball. He was there one year before accepting a position at Harrison Central.

During his time with the Huskies, Allen was on the varsity football staff and spent a season as the reserve basketball coach.

He returned to Barnesville in 2015 as a ninth grade English teacher and accepted the position with Johnson.

“Blake’s promotion to head football coach should be a smooth transition as he was an integral part to our staff the past two seasons,” Athletic Director Mark Cook said. “Blake was a team leader as a player on our 2005 and 2006 OVAC championship and playoff teams as well as having success at the collegiate level. Aside from coaching, Blake is also an outstanding high school English teacher.”

While the Shamrocks are coming off an impressive campaign, many of the key cogs are slated to graduate in May, meaning there will be holes to fill.

“We lost a lot of great kids and we’ll definitely miss their leadership because (the success) didn’t happen by accident,” Allen said. “But, every offseason presents a different challenge. The expectations were high last seasons and there was a challenge to live up to that. This year, it’s kind of the opposite. Some people think the expectation is that we’re going to be down because we lost such a great senior class. I think we’ll have kids playing with a chip on their shoulder. They’ll be excited to show what they can do. It’s their turn.”

Though it took until now to become official, Allen has already been working toward this moment. He’s been overseeing the Shamrocks’ off-season weight program. He hopes to keep the bulk of the coaching staff together, but opted not to list any names, officially.

Allen also pointed out the support he’s received from his family. He and his wife have children, Campbell (3) and Carter (1).

“The first thing you have to have is the support of your family and wife,” Allen said. “Being a coach’s wife can be challenging, but she’s been supportive of everything.”