One last opportunity to put on a football helmet and play was enough for Plainfield quarterback Dii’jon Allen-Jordan. That is what the 19th annual Snapple Bowl next Thursday at East Brunswick offers many recently-graduated seniors.
Allen-Jordan’s competitive days won’t be over after the all-star game that pits the best from Union and Middlesex counties at East Brunswick High School. Allen-Jordan was instrumental in Plainfield winning back-to-back NJSIAA Group III basketball titles and making it to two straight Tournament of Champions title games.
But he showed the last two falls that he was good enough to perhaps play at the college level in football and Delaware State and Farleigh Dickinson in Florham Park showed some interest. But he and teammate Jamal Lane will leave in August for Western Oklahoma State College, a two-year school in Altus, Oklahoma. The Cardinal teammates will play for the Pioneer basketball team.
Football, however, isn’t too far removed from his No. 1 passion. The enticement of playing one more game was enough for Allen-Jordan, who’ll be joined by teammates Robert Jackson and Lamond Sparrow. Game time at East Brunswick High School is 7 p.m.
“I want to put the equipment on one last time,” said Allen-Jordan. “I love football to death, but in basketball everything came to me.”
Football wasn’t an entirely bad experience for him. He could have easily cast the sport aside to focus entirely on basketball, but under coach Bill Nyers’ guidance, Allen-Jordan was a steady presence in the Cardinals’ pocket. Tyrone Johnson, now playing guard at Villanova, was expected to return as a senior quarterback in 2010, but left for a junior college. Allen-Jordan, who had gotten some snaps as a sophomore, became the starter.
“I’ve always had a football attitude of being physical, being rowdy, being up,” the 6-foot-5 quarterback said. “I feel the same in basketball. I’m the physical one. I like knocking people down. I like that kind of adrenaline it excises me.”
His leadership was one of the factors in arguably last season’s biggest upset. Plainfield denied Westfield a Mid-State 39 Watchung Division title with a stunning 22-21 Thanksgiving Day comeback win at Kehler Stadium. Westfield was stopped on third and fourth downs from the Plainfield one with 5:01 left in the third quarter. Plainfield carried its momentum for a 14-play, 99-yard drive – lasting 7:30. Twice, Allen-Jordan ran up the middle for first downs on third-and-short. A 1-yard scoring run by Jackson tied it up, and Jonathon Pressley’s extra point gave the Cardinals a 22-21 lead with 9:31 left in the game. Allen-Jordan completed just five passes but two went for touchdowns of 27 and 66 yards to Ricky Barnett.
Now, Allen-Jordan will get another chance to hand the ball off to Jackson or Westfield’s James O’Rourke and throw to both. Allen-Jordan will split time with Rahway quarterback Hakeem Kornegay, who’s more of a run first option quarterback.
“It’s an all-star game and I’m eager to see what we can do in the open,” said Allen-Jordan. “Fun. That’s what I’m looking forward to having and maybe throwing some deep balls.”