On Friday, Jason Allen will take a place he’s dreamt of for more than three decades when he begins his reign as the head coach of the Aynor High School football team.
Allen, who has walked the halls at Aynor High as a student, teacher and coach, takes over the Blue Jackets’ football program following the resignation of Jody Jenerette, who is now coaching at West Florence.
The 1997 graduate was named the Blue Jackets’ head coach in May.
“It’s a dream come true, honestly,” Allen said. “My brother told me when I was nine or 10 that I’d be the head coach at the high school one day, because of how much I love the game. Now, I get to take over my hometown team and try to build upon the foundation that’s been put in place (in recent years).”
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Allen becomes the fourth coach since 1977 at Aynor, where coach Dave Maness manned the sideline during Allen’s days as a student. Since that time, Aynor’s two other coaches have been Jenerette for 13 years and Marty Jacobs for five seasons.
Allen graduated from Clemson University in 2002 and began teaching history and coaching at Aynor the following year, serving as varsity defensive coordinator, junior varsity head coach, and varsity offensive coordinator during his career.
“My love for this place has grown the longer I’ve been around,” Allen said. “We’ve got a good thing going here and I can’t wait to put my stamp on this program for this town. There’s a lot of excitement around our program and all of the returning players.”
In his first year, Allen is attempting to take his experience as a coach of other teams and sports to cultivate the Blue Jackets’ program. During his 15 years at Aynor, he’s coached football, basketball, baseball, soccer, track and golf or, “a little bit of everything,” as he likes to say.
He’s also attempted to draw wisdom from coaching idols like Duke basketball’s Mike Krzyzewski, former NFL coach Tony Dungy, and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney. Allen has gone as far as borrowing a phrase from Swinney as the motto for his team.
“We’ve been saying ‘Best is the Standard’ around here all spring and summer,” Allen said. “You know, that’s our mindset for each lifting session, workout, practice rep and game. We’ve got to practice every rep as if it’s a game; we’ve got to push ourselves and give more effort.”
For a proud program like Aynor, going to the playoffs each season has become an expectation, and in a tough Region 6-3A, the Blue Jackets will have to play Dillon, Loris and Cheraw, who have already played and won on the season.
“We are out there to give it everything we’ve got to win each week,” Allen said. “One thing we’re working on with our players is knowing that, with our mindset, we can accomplish anything. It’s all about our energy and effort – if we give great energy and effort and execute, we can play with anybody, even in our tough region.”
Allen and the Blue Jackets will use the “Hammer” offense to take on its next challenge – the Waccamaw Warriors on the road at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Waccamaw lost to Carvers Bay, 81-14 in Week Zero, but has a strong nucleus coming back.
“We’ve got a long bus ride and a tough atmosphere to start off our season, so we’re going to have to be ready to go when we step off the bus,” Allen said. “They’ve already got some game experience against a powerhouse program in Carvers Bay, so they’ve seen it already this year – we’re playing catch-up right now on their experience.”
Friday’s local games:
Lower Richland at Carolina Forest
Conway at Nation Ford
Green Sea Floyds at Hannah Pamplico
Loris at North Myrtle Beach
Hanahan at Myrtle Beach
North Brunswick at Socastee
St. James at Hilton Head
Aynor at Waccamaw