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December 1, 2008Allen coach Tom Westerberg can either sit around and feel sorry for himself and his team every time his starting quarterback gets hurt in the playoffs - it's happened again this post-season with starter Matt Brown - or he and his staff can do something about.
The Eagles have chosen the latter, defying the bad luck this time. It's why Allen is still playing in December after backup Tucker Carter led the way to a 28-22 win over the mystique of Odessa Permian last Saturday at Texas Stadium.
Say what you will about Allen, the school built to win in football, not having a state championship yet. But when it comes to having a backup quarterback ready to play, whether it be in the regular season, or the playoffs, no one does it better than Westerberg and his staff.
Westerberg's insistence on having more than one quarterback ready - something he inherited from Joe Martin - paid off big time against Mojo. Carter completed 10 of 16 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns against Permian. He didn't throw an interception with Brown out with a shoulder injury.
Westerberg said it all starts in practice, where Carter gets time with the first- and second-team offense.
"He throws the ball as many times in practice as Matt does," Westerberg said. "It's all a matter of whether he's throwing with the ones or the twos. It's not a whole lot different."
Carter has also been in on all the film sessions and meetings, so it's not like he's coming in cold knowing an opponent. And Westerberg said as far as the mental side of the game goes, the backups are usually ready to handle it.
There is proof to back that up. Allen has dealt with injuries or ineffective quarterback play before, and the names of Carlyle Aguren, Travis Pickup, Stephen Payne and Nathan Dick are all familiar names as backups in Allen.
Aguren came in for the Eagles in last year's in the 37-32 bi-district loss to Rowlett and passed for 239 yards and three touchdowns in almost rallying his team and avoiding a huge upset. Payne played OK when Nathan Dick was hurt on the first offensive play in the 2006 state semifinals against Southlake Carroll.
And Nathan came in for his brother Casey Dickin the 2004 triple overtime win over Arlington Lamar in the playoffs.
It's an illustration of the tremendous job Westerberg and his staff do to keep quarterbacks ready, and the expectations they place on them.
"We expect backups to play as well as the starters," Westerberg said.