A number of elite defensive backs have displayed playmaking ability in more ways than one at both the collegiate and professional levels.
Charles Woodson, Devin Hester, Deion Sanders and Tyrann Mathieu, aka “The Honey Badger,” immediately come to mind.
At Cesar Chavez High School in Laveen, senior Tavion Allen is ready to show he’s cut from the same mold as those superstars.
As junior, Allen earned All-Division III First-Team recognition after leading the state with 10 interceptions, including three returned for touchdowns. This year he’s adding receiver and return specialist to his already-impressive skill set.
“My offense skill is pretty good and I’m fast,” Allen told Sports360AZ.com. “It’s good that I’m at kick return so I can make more plays now; not just playing defense. I can make more plays and that’s what I hope to do the rest of the season.”
Allen made several plays in the Champions season opener against Queen Creek, finishing with 12 tackles, over 100 receiving yards and a few long kickoff and punt returns. He also made an athletic touchdown reception, reaching over the top of a Bulldogs’ defender to make the catch.
“I just hope to make more plays like that,” he said. “Bigger plays every time I get the ball.”
His prowess as a returner benefits his team by giving it outstanding field position. One of his returns against Queen Creek set up a short field that ended with a touchdown.
“I hope I keep doing that in every game,” Allen said. “Every kick return I get I want to make the most of it.”
By now opposing coaches and quarterbacks are aware of Allen’s elite skill as a defender.
Does he expect last season’s performance and his reputation to cause teams to shy away from throwing the ball his direction?
“Yeah, I think so, definitely,” answered Allen, who measures 6-foot-1, 175 pounds. “I talked to a few quarterbacks that we play and I think they definitely know who I am and not to try the middle, where I play.”
Coaches typically want to limit an opponents’ biggest playmaker. That will be difficult task when game planning for Cesar Chavez and Allen.
Maybe they’ll just have to pick their poison when it comes to the Champions’ triple-threat superstar.