Despite a playoff bracket peppered with undefeated teams, the Allen Eagles claimed their second UIL state football title Dec. 22, 2012, with a 35-21 win over the Houston Lamar Redskins in the Class 5A Division 1 championship football game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
Players may have scored the touchdowns, but Head Coach Tom Westerberg ’87 and Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Jeff Fleener ’02 led the team.
Route to Victory
Football is religion in Texas. The warm-ups, the cheerleaders, the bands, the lights, the noise—it’s a regular Friday night ritual. And nowhere is it taken more seriously than at Allen High School, where the football program has claimed the state title twice in five years (2008, 2012). The team took home the title this year despite what some would call shaky odds—the Eagles only had two offensive and three defensive starters returning for the 2012 season.
“No one thought we had the team to win it all, maybe even including us at the beginning of the year,” said Fleener, the Eagles’ offensive coordinator for the past seven years. “But what no one realized is how team-centered this team was. We didn’t have big egos. We just had a bunch of players who played for each other.”
And under the scrutiny of a 48,379-man crowd, just short of the 1977 crowd record of 49,953 for a high school game, that is exactly what the Eagles did. Going into the championship game, Fleener instructed his offense to play as they had in the past 15 games—hard and fast. He told them to win, but to do it with character.
“I was extremely proud of our players as the clock ran down,” said Westerberg, now in his ninth season as head coach at Allen, where he holds a 102-15 record. “Our staff does a great job of getting the players to understand what it takes to win while also making the game fun. A lot of time and work goes into each season, and to be rewarded at the end is an amazing experience.”
While a pressure-packed stadium may have made lesser teams crumble, the Eagles don’t shy from the big stage. Their own stadium is the largest for a single team in Texas high school history, and regular season games drew crowds ranging 15,000-20,000.
Westerberg was selected as Dallas Area Coach of the Year presented by Comerica Bank for his performances during the 2012 season. Fleener earned the Billy Whitman Award for his offensive and recruiting achievements.
From coaching staff to players, the paths of Allen High School and Texas A&M University frequently overlap.
Allen quarterback Kyler Murray is the 15-year-old son of former Texas A&M quarterback Kevin Murray (1983-1986). Texas A&M players Uzoma Nwachukwu, Steven Terrell and Cedric Ogbuehi were all high school teammates recruited from Allen.
Nwachukwu will return to Allen Feb. 2 to play in the Texas vs. The Nation College All-Star Game, hosted in the Eagle Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m., and Westerberg will be an assistant coach for Team Texas in the game.
A 1987 graduate in physical education, Westerberg was in the Corps of Cadets his freshman year and served as football manager during the 1983 and 1984 seasons.
“In both capacities, I learned that hard work pays off. I had to work to get my degree, in much the same way I teach our players that they have to work to win,” Westerberg said. “Nothing is just given without effort.”
A 2002 kinesiology graduate, Fleener was involved in Fish Camp, serving as a counselor, co-chair and director during his time at Texas A&M.
“The responsibilities and experiences I had in Fish Camp have helped me manage things on a large scale,” Fleener said. “As the second largest high school in Texas, we have a larger program than most schools, and it’s important to be organized and efficient in everything we do.”
Despite witnessing plenty of former players compete in college—and holding an impressive coaching record themselves—Fleener and Westerberg have little aspiration to leave the sidelines at Allen High.
“What I love about high school football is that it isn’t a business the way college football is,” Fleener said. “Now, if Coach Sumlin called me tomorrow, you can bet I’d be there in three hours!”
Westerberg and his wife Sandra have three children, Kyle, Lance and Corri. Fleener and his wife Katy ’01 have two children, Ty and Chase. Fleener’s parents and brother are also Texas A&M graduates.
By Dunae Crenwelge ’14
Senior Director of Development