Cowboys come up big on Ron Allen’s special night
By Kyle LoJacono
Gaither High christened Ron Allen Field with a 17-10 victory over north Hillsborough County rival Freedom High.
Before the game the Cowboys had a ceremony to name the field after the school’s first principal, who led Gaither from 1984-1993.
“I was ok until they started playing the school’s song,” Allen said. “That kind of brought a tear to my eye. I just want to thank everyone, especially the original faculty.”
Original faculty still at Gaither signed a football that was presented to Allen during the ceremony. He said it is one of the most special gifts he has ever received and he will put it in his living room so he always sees it.
Allen, of Lutz, was Chamberlain High’s principal before coming to Gaither. Many graduates from Gaither and Chamberlain came to see him.
“It’s very special,” said current Gaither principal Marie Whelan, who was a student at the school during Allen’s tenure. “He really deserves it for everything he’s done for the school. He’s the reason the school is what it is today.”
The game was also special for the Cowboys as the seven-point win was the first for Gaither at home in nearly two years.
“It’s a great feeling to win in front of what I feel is the best supporting cast in Hillsborough County,” said Cowboys coach Mark Kantor. “I’m excited for the school, for the kids and to win for our principal. I love winning games for that lady because she’s a fantastic principal, and especially on the night we dedicate the field to Mr. Ron Allen.”
Both offenses started slowly, each losing fumbles on their second drives.
The Cowboys (2-2) got on track first when quarterback Shug Oyegunle ran for a 27-yard touchdown with 1:34 left in the first half. Gaither got the ball back with 1:06 remaining and scored again when Oyegunle hit Josh Bultron with a 36-yard pass.
Patriots (1-3) quarterback Dominic Marino got his team on the board in the fourth quarter with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Robert Lohnes. Two drives later Freedom made a 35-yard field goal to get within a touchdown.
The Cowboys gave the Patriots a chance to tie the game by losing a fumble with 38 seconds remaining on their own 43, but the visitors were sacked twice on the drive to end the game.
“We had our opportunities and we just didn’t do anything with them,” said Freedom coach Tchecoy Blount. “We’ve got to get back to work and fix all the problems as fast as we can.”
Oyegunle finished 9-of-13 passing for 101 yards and added another 60 yards on six runs.
The Cowboys defense recorded four sacks and forced three turnovers, two of which were interceptions by defensive back Tyler McCollum.
“I kept seeing them going over the middle to (Lohnes), so when I saw him doing it again I just tried to make a tackle and the ball ended up in my hands,” McCollum said. “The next one it was just an overthrow that I went and got.”
Lohnes had five catches for 120 yards. Blount called Lohnes the team’s ironman for playing on both sides of the ball while returning punts and kicks.
“That kid is a football player,” Kantor said of Lohnes. “I was scared to death of him touching the football all night. He deserves to play somewhere in college.”