CONCORD, Calif. —
The burden to bear being the son of a NFL player can be overwhelming.
But De La Salle (Concord)
standout linemen Larry Allen III
and Kahlil Mckenzie
embrace it all, and protect their namesake.
Much like Allen, a 6-foot-3, 285-pound senior guard, shields quarterback Chris Williams
from rushers, and like McKenzie, a 6-4, 315-pound junior defensive tackle, bear hugs and mauls opposing running backs.
The two will anchor each large and talented line 8 p.m. Saturday against the massive fronts of
St. John Bosco (Bellflower)
in the State Open Bowl Game at the StubHub Center in Carson (Los Angeles County).
"I love my last name and all that comes with it," said McKenzie, whose dad Reggie is the general managers for the Raiders after a brief careers as a linebacker with the Raiders and 49ers. "People always way ‘You're Reggie's son?' And I always feel a sense of family pride."
Said Allen III, whose dad Larry Jr. was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in the summer after a 14-year career with the Cowboys and 49ers: "It's big shoes to live up to, but I love the challenge."
One would assume the sons connected with their unique challenges, but both say they've rarely if at all talked about their dads or NFL connections.
Mostly, Allen has tried to mentor and indoctrinate newcomer McKenzie into the De La Salle system this season. McKenzie transferred into the perennial national juggernaut before this season after living in Wisconsin. His dad was an administrator with the Packers for 18 years, the last few as director of player personnel.
Kahlil said he knew little about the De La Salle program before arriving, but found out quickly the price it takes.
"It's not for the faint of heart," he said.
Said De La Salle head coach Justin Alumbaugh: "He was heavy and not in good football shape for what we like to do. He was gigantic and strong as an ox. But there was definitely a learning curve."
For the first time, Kahlil played a little on offensive too and that's when Allen III took him under his wing. "He helped me a lot," Kahlil said. "He's a good teacher and a good guy."
Allen III, of course, learned from one of the best. Though his dad, who had been a part time assistant the last two seasons, makes things pretty simple.
"He always tells me to remember my technique, move my feet and just dominate my opponent."
Allen III, who has 20 Division I offers including UCLA, Cal and Harvard (he's a 3.89 student), has done plenty of dominating. Larry Jr. said he never pushed his son into football.
"As long as he's happy, that's all I ever cared about," Larry Jr. said. "Wherever he wants to go, I'll back him up."
Larry Jr., who had trouble in school, said he's more proud of his son's academic achievement than football. He said De La Salle has been a perfect fit in both areas.
"We couldn't have asked for a better school for him to go to," he said. "I love the friends he's made her, the disciplined he's been taught. I'm confident he's going to turn into a great man.
"The only advice I give him on the field is to just keep doing what you're doing, get off the ball and be physical. Eventually you'll wear the other guy down."
That's not easy at practice when he tangles with McKenize, who leads De La Salle with 12 sacks and is ranked the No. 20 defensive tackle in the country for his class according to 247Sports.
He already has offers from Arizona, Miami, Duke and Ole Miss, among others.
"My improvement this year directly relates to going against Kahlil," Allen III said. "He's so strong and powerful. He's at a whole different level then guys we normally face."
Both Allen III and Kahlil will face mirror images Saturday. Kahlil will actually be dwarfed by Bosco All-American guard Damien Mama
, a 6-5, 353-pound senior, while Allen III will contend with three Division I defensive line prospects, including USC-bound Malik Dorton
"Easily the No. 1 key to this game will be who establishes the line of scrimmage," Bosco coach Jason Negro said. "There are some amazing players on both sides of the ball for both teams."
Negro called McKenzie and Sumner Houston
"devastating" defensive tackles, who are "dominating, big, strong and move incredibly well. And their technique is unbelievable."
So too should be Saturday's showdown of two top five nationally-ranked teams. Bosco is No. 3 and De La Salle No. 4. Both Allen and McKenzie said they could barely sit still waiting for Saturday's game.
"This is my final game in a De La Salle jersey," Allen said. "I'm soaking in each and every moment. This is our biggest challenge in our final game. It's great."
Said McKenzie: "They have some very talented football players and so do we. It's for the state title. I wouldn't want it any other way."