One of Conner Allen’s most vivid football memories comes from when he was still in elementary school, at a game in which he didn’t even play.
Allen was in the stands in Waco in 2007, when Highland Park lost a nail-biter to Lake Travis in the Class 4A state championship game.
“That was the first football game that I cried at,” he said. “That memory is seared into my brain.”
He has always been a fan from afar of the team coached by his grandfather, Randy Allen. But this summer — just in time for his senior year — his connection to the program became closer than ever when his family moved from Austin to Dallas.
The relocation allowed Conner to join the tradition he’s admired for years and at the same time create some special family memories during his final season of high school football.
“I’ve always wanted to be a part of the tradition here. I knew it would be a cool program to play for,” Conner said. “I already had a good idea of what the program was like.”
He has made an immediate impact in a crowded backfield for HP. Through the first two games, he scored three touchdowns and led the Scots in rushing yardage.
Conner was a TAPPS all-state running back last season at Regents School of Austin, the private school he had attended since first grade. He led the Knights to the state title game last season.
“I’ve always wanted to be a part of the tradition here.”
So while transferring to Highland Park was exciting, it also came with some trepidation. After all, the competition would be tougher. He went from a standout to a newcomer just trying to find a role on an established roster.
After his parents confirmed they’d be moving in June, it took Conner just two days to pack up his car, drive to the Park Cities, bunk down in his grandparents’ guest house, and join his new teammates for his first offseason workout.
“I had to earn a spot and try to contribute to the team,” Conner said. “I was surprised at how easy the transition was, but I think the work I put in during the offseason had something to do with that. The size and speed might be a little different, but it’s still football.”
He also credits his new teammates for being so welcoming to an outsider who wasn’t around for spring drills.
Although he brought valuable experience as a starter from Regents, Randy Allen said Conner had to diversify his skill set and learn new signals in order to maximize his value to the Scots.
“He had a very important role there, and came here with no guarantees,” Randy Allen said. “It’s been a challenge for him. When he got the opportunity, he’s been able to perform.”
Randy Allen’s son, Zac, played quarterback for him at Abilene Cooper during the early 1990s, but the opportunity to coach Conner has been unique. After all, he’s now able to see Conner play more than just once or twice a year. And more family members were in the stands for this season’s home opener than possibly any other game in the legendary coach’s career.
“It’s been a great experience,” Randy Allen said, “and it’s something that neither he nor I thought would happen.”