August 28, 2013

Trading in one type of football for another

After a concussion ended his football career, Zach Allen turns his attention to soccer

By Denis House
Sports Editor

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Zach Allen doesn’t remember much about last year’s football game against Southwestern Pulaski.

“I remember Juice (Jason Mitchell) was supposed to be the slot receiver and I was the split,” Allen said. “As we jogged out to our positions, Juice made the call for us to switch. That’s the last thing I remember.”

Even watching the game film doesn’t jog his memory. Allen made the catch, but a helmet-to-helmet tackle by a Southwestern player resulted in Allen’s helmet flying off, and he laid motionless on the ground. The play also ended his football career thanks to the concussion he received. It also caused him to miss last basketball season, though he was cleared in time to play baseball for South Laurel this past spring.

And while one football career is over, another has begun, as this year he decided to give football, or soccer as we Americans call it, a try. He hadn’t played soccer since he was five years old.

“I’m really enjoying it,” Allen said. “It has really helped me get back into shape. I have lost 11 pounds since we started practice.”

Allen said that all the soccer players have welcomed him with open arms, and he has even become the starting keeper for the Cardinals. Of course, at his size he’s an imposing figure in the goal for opposing players. He has even played a little in the field, and said his first time resulted in being warned for physical play about 10 seconds after getting into a scrimmage game.

Allen isn’t sure if he’s going to play basketball this year because he hasn’t been cleared for that sport yet. He has suffered four concussions (two major, two minor) and has to be cleared before he plays any sport.

He does admit that he misses football. He said his mother asked him after last year’s concussion that put him out of football if he would do it all again, and he said in an instant.

“There’s something about being under the lights on Friday night,” Allen said. “I can’t explain it, but there’s just something about football.”

While he may miss football, he knows that he’s lucky to still be able to play any sport.

“I thank God that He has allowed me to continue playing sports,” Allen said.