Randy Allen: Winning Don Shula coaching award a 'great honor'

Randy Allen's list of achievements seems almost otherworldly.

In his 43 years as a high school football coach, Allen has won two Texas state titles, become the most successful coach in the prestigious history of the Highland Park (Dallas) football program and ascended to fourth all-time in wins by a Texas coach (361-86-6).

Despite the numerous achievements and accolades, his selection as this year's Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award winner ranks among the greatest moments of his long career.

"Coach Shula was such a great coach himself. Just having that name on the award means a tremendous amount," Allen said during an appearance on Good Morning Football on Wednesday. "Then, to know the committee that chose it, the men on the committee and just representing high school coaches across the nation, that's a big responsibility and it's a great honor."

Allen, 67, was selected as this year's Shula award winner from a list of candidates selected by each NFL team. Allen took home the honor after guiding Highland Park to a Texas Class 5A Division 1 state title in December. Allen was formally recognized as this year's winner at the Pro Bowl in January and received $25,000 from the NFL Foundation -- $15,000 of which will be invested in Highland Park's program.

Although Allen has had a plethora of memorable moments in his career, he says playing an important role in the character development of players he coached has always been at the forefront of his duties. He's also very proud that many of his former players have gone on to coach high school football.

"Teaching character and having a role in the lives of young men has been the most rewarding part of being a coach," said Allen, who wrote a book titled "Coaching Character" about the subject.

Still, seeing players on the cusp of greatness nurture their budding NFL talent also has been very gratifying for Allen. He recalls fondly just how talented Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was during his days at Highland Park.

"Matthew had a tremendous arm, and still does obviously," said Allen, who has coached at Highland Park for 18 years. "When college coaches would come by to watch him throw, I could remember the noise that the ball made in the air. He could spin it so fast that it would make this humming noise and I've never had a quarterback that could do that.

"But Matthew was a great leader, and as long as he was on the field, our guys believed they could win. We had some close games in that year (2005) when we won the state championship and went undefeated. But Matthew had a goal to be a starting quarterback in college and then a pro quarterback, and I think he's done a tremendous job. I'm really proud of Matthew."

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees also made an impact on Allen during his playing days at Westlake High School in Austin.

"He beat us in the state championship game. I coached the all-star game right after that, and he beat us in that game too," Allen said. "He was very accurate at throwing the football. He was a leader. I didn't know Drew Brees would be the great player that he is. But in high school, he was a great player."

For now, Allen is keeping focus on what will be his 44th year as a high school football coach as he looks to build upon Highland Park's state record of 801 all-time victories.

"I love my high school and it's been a lot of fun over the years being part of something so special," he said.

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