PORTLAND – Logan Lefke was surprised last season when he found out that he would be brought up to Portland’s varsity roster without Austin Allison.
Lefke, now a senior tailback, lined up behind the quarterback during his sophomore season on junior varsity and always felt the quarterback was full of potential.
“He’s a tremendous athlete and makes good decisions, whether it’s running the ball or throwing it,” Lefke said of Allison, who was a freshman when they first played together. “He’s impressed me the whole time I’ve played with him.”
Allison, now a junior, finally got his call-up this summer. He entered the Raiders’ varsity roster as the third quarterback, working behind two seniors that split time last year and helped guide Portland to a 10-1 record and a CAAC White title.
As camp progressed, Allison exhibited the talent Lefke saw two years prior and eventually emerged as the leader of the group. And the Sunday before Portland opened its season against Ovid-Elsie, Allison got the confirmation from his coach that he would be the guy. He’s been in the driver’s seat since.
Allison has scored five touchdowns (three passing and two rushing) and thrown for 398 yards with two interceptions for the run-heavy Raiders who have opened the season with a 3-0 record.
“I think we have three great quarterbacks, and we had a heck of a competition, but when the game gets fast, it slows down for him,” Portland coach John Novara said of his first-year QB. “He’s calm and relaxed in the pocket, and that won him the job.”
Allison, who has completed over 57 percent (15 for 26) of his passes and is averaging more than 26 yards per completion this year, said he came into the summer believing he could win the job. He just needed the opportunity to prove it.
“I knew I could be the starter in the back of my mind, I just had two senior starters in front of me,” said Allison. “I (knew) that I’d have to work as hard as they were, if not harder, to earn my spot.”
The junior doesn’t get many opportunities to show off his arm, as he’s grown up in the run-first, Wing-T offense his whole career. But when his number’s been called at the varsity level, so far, he’s delivered.
In Friday’s 33-0 victory over Fowlerville, Allison unleashed a bomb to wide receiver Treyvin Groesser on the first drive of the game for a 48-yard touchdown. He was on the cusp of having another long-distance score with seven seconds remaining before halftime, but his deep ball to the far-left pylon fell through the arms of Brett Patrick. His throw on the next play, with two seconds left, bounced off his receiver’s hands in the end zone.
Both plays were setup by a 39-yard pass along the sideline from Allison to running back Kollin Carl, who was able to beat his man downfield with a wheel route.
“Whenever we run a pass (play), I just try to complete it because we don’t pass a lot,” Allison said. “I’m used to it. We’ve run this offense for so many years.”
Novara said pairing Allison with this particular group of skill players gives his offense something it’s never had during his 18-year tenure.
“I’ve always had good quarterbacks or good receivers, I’ve never had them in combination,” he said. “I think this year we have both.”
Contact James L. Edwards III at firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.