Allen puts MJC in good hands

Marcus Allen gets excited when people ask him if he's related to the former Oakland Raider running back of the same name.

With the same jersey number and same penchant for making big plays, it's not a stretch for football fans to wonder.

The Modesto Junior College freshman receiver leads the Pirates with 459 yards on 31 receptions heading into tonight's Golden Gate Conference game at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg.

Being the top receiver was not something Allen set out to do when camp started this summer. He only wanted to do his best and see where that led.

"I didn't know what any of the other receivers could do," Allen said. "I know what I could do. I didn't come out with me being the receiver. I don't think about starting. Anyone can take my position at any time."

Allen is pushed by his teammates and his desire to transfer to a Division I college. Marquell Colston, Modesto's leading rusher, has 309 yards on 18 catches. Chris Avey has caught 25 passes for 279 yards. All have highlight-reel plays. What makes Allen special is his electrifying ability to haul in a long pass in the end zone or take off down the field after a short toss.

"Marcus is a playmaker," starting quarterback Chad Draper said. "We know if the ball's in his hands, he's going to do something with it. We need to put him in situations where we get him the ball."

Allen said his favorite play of the season wasn't one of his four touchdowns, but one that was called back due to penalty.

Last week against Hartnell, Allen grabbed a short pass from backup quarterback Joey Estrada and tore up the visiting sideline for what would have been a 62-yard score.

The sprint allowed him to tap into his background as a running back. An Orestimba High graduate, Allen realized during his freshman year that he wasn't going to get time at running back. So he switched to receiver and loved it right away.

"He probably has the most natural hands of any receiver in this group," coach Sam Young said. "Marcus has the ability to make guys miss and make things happen after he's caught the ball."

Anything Allen can contribute against Los Medanos (3-3, 1-0 GGC) will be welcome. Draper, who sustained a slightly separated shoulder last week, said he hopes to play. He took snaps on Thursday and Friday.

Young said the starting quarterback will be a game-time decision. Estrada has played in three games. He threw two touchdown passes last week and went 9-for-20 for 141 yards in three quarters.

Young compared the conference-opening 52-21 victory over Hartnell to putting on a different pair of glasses. The Pirates (2-4, 1-0 GGC) struggled before the bye, but felt renewed after everyone got to play last week in a dominating performance.

"We had our nose to the grindstone for two weeks and that bore fruit," Young said. "That gave most of the players confidence that's how things are going to go in league."