Gene Allen recalls being encouraged to hit the weight room a few years ago. It wasn’t later, however, until he truly committed himself to weight training. What a difference it has made.
“Words can’t even describe how much the weight room helped,” he said.
Lifting all those weights not only sculpted the Mattituck High School senior’s muscles and enabled him to lead Greenport/Southold/Mattituck’s football team to its finest season in over three decades, it also gave Allen a future in college football. Allen has made Hartwick College his college of choice, declaring that he will play football for the NCAA Division III team.
It sounded as if the decision was a no-brainer for Allen once he made a visit to the school’s Oneonta campus and saw Hartwick’s Wright Stadium, which offers a scenic view of a mountain.
“I just fell in love,” he said.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Allen said he had also considered Plymouth State University (N.H.), “but I was so stuck on Hartwick.”
Allen apparently drew more than casual interest from Hartwick. He said Hartwick’s defensive coordinator, Mike Tracy, made a visit to Greenport toward the end of last season and kept in contact with him afterward.
“I knew he actually wanted me,” Allen said. “… He came all the way out to Greenport from Oneonta.”
While there may have been little question in Allen’s mind as to what college he will play for, just what position he will play for the Hawks (6-4 last season) remains to be seen.
An All-County selection for the Porters, Allen has played wide receiver, running back, defensive back and linebacker in addition to playing on special teams.
“He was a special player,” said Greenport/Southold/Mattituck coach Jack Martilotta. The coach added: “He has a lot of the intangibles. He’s a great leader, and slippery, I’m sure as you saw. A lot of people missed tackling [him]. He had that nice combination of he’s tough to tackle, but then he’s tough to bring down. When he was on defense, he could defend the pass or stop the run. That’s what everybody was looking for.”
Allen said it doesn’t matter much to him what position he plays for the blue and white Hawks “as long as I’m on the field as one of those 22 people playing that game, in the starting lineup. I want to be either starting on defense or on offense.”
The Porters capped a 6-3 season with a playoff loss to Mount Sinai. It was their first six-win season since 1970, according to Martilotta.
“I just didn’t want to end football,” Allen said. “… I wanted to keep on playing.”
Allen said he saw how much of a difference the hard work he and his teammates put in made.
If Martilotta has mixed feelings about seeing Allen move on, it’s understandable.
“He’s going to be able to play football and get a great education,” Martilotta said. “I couldn’t be happier for him. He’s a great kid and we’ll be sorry to see him go. He’s going on to do great things.”
Allen, who said he spends six days a week in the weight room, will begin his college life when he leaves in mid-August for preseason practice. In the meantime, he continues working on his speed and strength.
Another thing that Allen likes about Hartwick is that it is expected to have a new weight room soon. He said, “That’s going to be my second home.”