Orchard Lake St. Mary's' loss to the Muskegon Big Reds in last years state championship game is still fresh in the mind junior defensive back Dionte Allen. The disappointment of not bringing home the prize after getting so close is a feeling the high-level 2007 prospect doesn't want repeat. Allen feels that his team has all of to tools to prevent that from happening again, but that they must stay mentally sharp to make sure it doesn't. "We just have to stay focused and keep pushing each other," he said. "I think we have a pretty good team and a really good defense. I know we're going to get it done this year."
One of the players that has really pressed Allen this season is first-year teammate Taurian Washington. The Detroit DePorres transfer has been a standout at receiver this year and is receiving college looks as well. Standing 6-1, 170-pounds, and capable of running a 4.5 forty…Washington has helped Allen step up his game by challenging him in practice. "Having Taurian here has meant a lot," Allen said. "He pushes me. It's all about getting better. I need to increase my strength and I need to get my speed down. I want to get faster. But I always tell him that he better to go to the same college that I do or I'm going to lock him up. It's fun. We go at it everyday."
Another key to Allen's continued success is the advice he receives. His position coach, Jeff Phillips, always has words of wisdom…as do a few of friends that have already been where he's at. After making it back from Iowa last Saturday, a very sore Grant Mason made it down to Ford Field to support his young friend and former team. According to Allen, the help he receives from his friends in Ann Arbor is invaluable. "I talk to them all of the time…like everyday," Allen said. "I talk to Grant, Morgan [Trent]…all of them. The main thing they tell me is to keep working hard and make sure I keep the team involved."
The success the team has enjoyed to date has been extremely fulfilling for Allen, but that hasn't stopped him from feeling that there is a little something is missing. His good friend Kalin Lucas decided to hang up his football cleats this season to focus on basketball. As much as Allen would have liked Lucas to get back on the gridiron with him, he understands why the star point guard chose not to. Allen feels the sky is the limit on the basketball court for his friend. "It's a little different without him on the team," Allen said. "I think if Kalin would have played, he would have gotten a little love too. But I knew he would blow up [in basketball] because he started working hard. He was kind of mad [earlier in his high school career] because I was on varsity (for basketball) before him. But he got used it. He said, 'You know D, I'm going to keep working hard and whatever happens happens.' Kalin is a good kid and he works hard, so I knew he was going to shoot up like this. I'm going to hoop with him again this year. I was thinking about not doing it, but I'm going to go ahead and do it for St. Mary's. They need me out there, mainly for leadership."
With the playoffs now upon him, Allen doesn't have much time to think about basketball or recruiting. He has not even been able to make it to any games this fall because of his team's schedule (St. Mary's plays on Saturdays). That said, it remains clear that the Wolverines are the team to beat for his services. Michigan assistant Ron English has made it out to his school this fall and the two have forged a good relationship that dates back over the last two summer camps. His decision date is still a ways off, but the Maize and Blue will be tough to beat. When asked if he and Lucas have discussed attending school together, his answer made that very apparent. "We've talked about it somewhat," he said. "But it's different with him. He has other schools that he likes too."