DALLAS - After an off-season that had both joy and tragedy, future University of Arkansas signees and current Allen standouts Marcus Shavers and Casey Dick got what they most wanted to open the 2004 season.
That would be Allen's 31-13 win over Mesquite in the opening game of the Tom Landry Classic doubleheader Saturday night at SMU's Gerald J. Ford Stadium.
Quarterback Dick (6-2, 195) was 15-of-26 for 237 yards with two touchdowns and one interception while defensive end Shavers (6-3, 260) recovered a fumble and actually cashed that in by catching a touchdown pass on a botched field goal attempt.
"We got off to a great start," noted Shavers of his team's 24-0 halftime lead in a game that snapped a two-game losing streak in openers for the pair. "We played with fanatical effort. What made it even better was seeing all the Razorback fans in the stands and competing against another future Arkansas player."
The pair, playing against another future Razorback in Mesquite playmaker Reggie Fish, both committed to Arkansas this summer and then had to suffer through the loss of teammate Travis Dickerson, a senior defensive end who was killed in a July auto accident that also injured another teammate.
"We have dedicated the season to him," Dick said. "We wanted to come out and play hard for him and ourselves. He was always talking about how hard he was going to play this year and this was for him tonight."
The win was capped when Shavers first recovered Mesquite's bad shotgun snap and then saved his team from a no-point possession by leaping high in the end zone, hauling in the pass and getting his feet down in-bounds for the score.
"It was just a fire call," Shaver said. "I just got out and the ball came my way and luckily I was able to come down with it."
That turned a tenuous 24-13 lead into a 31-13 commanding one for Allen, who was 13-2 last season and is ranked No. 2 in 5A this season by The Dallas Morning News.
"That (fumble recovery and touchdown) was for my boy that passed away a couple of weeks ago," Shavers said. "He was with me this whole game and he is going to be with me like that this whole season."
Shavers only had one tackle, but was double-teammed and ran away from most of the night.
"I got a lot of attention, but I don't care who makes the plays as long as they get made," Shavers said. "We have the best coaching staff in the state and they had our team prepared."
Fish (5-7, 150), who will be a wideout for Arkansas, showed his playmaking ability at quarterback for Mesquite.
He rushed 13 times for 75 yards - including two dazzling 18-yard runs in which he evaded several tackle - while also completing 12-of-29 passes for 154 yards, with an interception and a 57-yard touchdown pass that got his team within 24-13 with a little over two minutes left in the third quarter.
"We came out a little slow, a little sluggish and you can't do that against a team like Allen," Fish said. "I was proud we responded in the second half and came out motivated and got with it. I guess I played okay, but you never feel like you played your best when it results in a loss."
Dick got things started with a flurry early when he unloaded a 55-yard bomb on the game's first play to Brennan Gleason. That later resulted in Dick's one-yard TD run.
He would later throw a 39-yard scoring strike to Gleason while younger brother Nathan Dick backed up big brother ably with a 13-yard touchdown run of his own in between his brother's heroics.
Dick had four passes dropped and had only one major error, a throw into coverage that resulted in a Dray Johnson's pick that he ran back 26 yards for a score.
"We had a pretty good night," Dick said. "We had great pass protection and I had a lot of time to throw the ball and my receivers made some great catches. I was very happy about that. I did some things wrong that I can get better at."
This was actually Dick's first start, but he was been a valuable back-up last season while playing in all 15 games and made a name for himself via that role and on the camp circuit this summer.
"It really wasn't anything knew that I hadn't done in the past, but it did feel great to walk out there for that first series," Dick said. "The best part was to get the win and get the season going in great style."
He did goad Shavers, who was a tight end as a sophomore.
"He never catches them in practice, but he catches them when it counts," Dick said.
The trio before a nice crowd that included the Richardson Pearce duo of Colin Tucker (6-5, 270) and Matt Harris, two other 2005 Razorback commitments from Texas.
"We are all big friends and we just wanted to come and show our support for them," Tucker said. "We're all excited about coming to Arkansas.
Richardson Pearce opens it season Friday night at The Colony.
"We think we are going to have a great year," Harris said. "We're ready to get going."
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