Running back Dwayne Allen Jr. energizes St. Edward offense

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For two years, Dwayne Allen Jr. watched St. Edward running back Davontae Elam, and learned.

Now Allen is showing how well he paid attention as he handles the ball as many times as a bigger back might, but does it with his own flair during a season that has the Green Wave (6-0, 3-0) closing in on the school’s first conference title since the 1948 team won the old Northeast Catholic Conference crown.

“We expect when you feature a guy that it might mean 20 carries a game, but he’s gotten it 43, 44 times before,” St. Edward coach Mike Rolando said. “He’s a durable, tough kid in real good shape with good muscle mass.

“Part of the reason he is so durable is he doesn’t get hit hard. Like a lot of good backs, he has that ability to avoid being hit.”

At 5-9, 160 pounds, Allen has a much different style than the 190-pound Elam, who was more north-south with power. Allen, who developed as a youth player with the Elgin Bears and Junior Royals, has speed and moves, and on one run earlier went 61 yards from sideline to sideline and then back.

“The linemen know to keep blocking downfield and stay with their blocks because he might be coming back their way,” Rolando said.

It isn’t all natural ability — some was learned.

“The biggest thing I learned from watching Davontae was patience with my running,” Allen said. “I was always full speed. Watching him, I’d see him change speeds to follow them through a hole and let a play develop.”

Allen’s debut didn’t go as planned with 11 yards on 15 runs against Genoa-Kingston. Since then he has been the dominant force in a multifaceted offense. With 891 yards on 115 carries, Allen leads the area in rushing.

Allen ran for more than 200 yards in consecutive weeks against Riverside-Brookfield (203), IC Prep (242) and Guerin (220). He could have done it five times but had only five carries in routs of Clark and Walther Christian. He still went over 100 yards in each game.

“Part of the reason I’m not getting hit is the line I’ve got is doing a terrific job,” Allen said. “They’re low key without publicity, but I’m not juking anyone without them.”

Originally Rolando intended to use Dan Favela to take carries from Allen, but the senior had appendicitis and now suffers from a toe fracture that could keep him out until the regular-season finale.

Allen has only two catches, but can do that, as well.

“We’ve got a lot of targets in the passing game and haven’t really gotten to it,” Rolando said.

So Allen has displayed his hands in another way — as a starting cornerback.

“At the beginning of the year I was getting plays off and then going to defense, but now I’m used to going right back out,” he said. “At corner you have to have a short memory and I do. I don’t hang on to stuff, if they beat you on a long one. You have to lose that real quick and do your job.”

St. Edward will no doubt need help from Allen on both sides of the ball Friday with a homecoming game against Ridgewood (3-3, 3-0) in a battle between Metro Suburban East leaders.

“Their losses came to 5A, 6A and 8A teams so they’re going to be a strong opponent,” Rolando said.

Added Allen: “We had a few games earlier this year where it seemed like we didn’t come out ready to play but we’ll be ready for this one.”

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