Allen head football coach Teddy Keaton has had a successful career at all levels, including a previous stop at former SIAC school Stillman.
But his current pride and joy are the Yellowjackets, a program that is on the rise and appears ready for contention just four years after the program’s restart.
“It’s been a joyous process,” Keaton said of putting together the football program that will soon include a football stadium. “I’ve won a lot of ball games, a couple of championships, but this is a legacy piece. I’ve had some other places want to try and steal me away from Allen, but I tell them all the time my work’s not done here.”
The Yellowjackets are in their final NCAA/SIAC transitional year, and 2022 was a season of growing pains. Allen finished the season 2-8, but with nearly every game being a close one, Keaton feels that a little harder work and experience will turn the tide in their favor.
“We’ve got to do a better job of playing four quarters and not let small bits of adversity disrupt the team,” Keaton said. “We lost five games by a combined eight points, and we wanted the guys to learn from that.”
To that end, Keaton and his coaching staff sent Allen players home for the summer break with a training program to complete, and 95 percent of the team met benchmarks within the program.
“They showed me something when they came back for camp this week,” Keaton said. “I think they’ve gotten smarter and accustomed to how we do things. The good thing is they took some close losses, and they looked at them as lessons. They’re understanding the pace of SIAC football. You’ve gotta prepare every day and what you get out of it what you put into of it.”
Keaton is excited to return the majority of his roster, including redshirt sophomore quarterback David Wright, who is returning from injury. Wright completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,049 yards and five touchdowns before getting hurt halfway through the season.
He’ll be joined in the backfield by junior running back Beau Harrington, whose 734 rushing yards would’ve placed him third in the SIAC if Allen had been eligible for statistical mention.
Edge rusher Justin Eaton leads the list of Yellowjacket returnees on defense, coming off a 2022 season where he recorded seven sacks and 10 ½ tackles for loss, both of which led the team.
Sophomore corner Kevin Graham snatched a team-high four interceptions last season and returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown.
With so much young talent returning a year better and a year wiser, Keaton is ready for the season to begin and is using one word to describe his team.
“Relentless. I want them to be relentless in their pursuit of excellence,” he says. “They’ve committed to this program when they could’ve gone other places. They’ve been locked in, and I’m very excited about what the season holds for us.”