By Matt Goisman
McALESTER — The Bishop Kelley Comets ran a bubble pass in the third quarter of Friday’s home game against the McAlester Buffaloes. The ball went to Kelley’s running back in the backfield, and for a moment he had nothing but open space around him.
Seemingly out of nowhere, McAlester senior safety Allen Woodmore came charging in from the secondary. Woodmore met the Comet running back head on and tackled him immediately, turning what could’ve been a big gain into a 5-yard loss.
The Comets punted two plays later. Plays like that made Woodmore an easy choice as one of the Buffs’ captains this season.
“We spent a 20-minute period working on adjusting to the motions, and he does exactly like you coach him to do,” Buffs coach Bryan Pratt said of Woodmore on Fridat.
“That’s just typical Allen Woodmore. If you watch him tackle, he’s just a great tackler, and as long he continues like he is, he’s going to make us a really good team.”
Woodmore grew up in McAlester watching the Buffs on Friday nights. He started playing football in the fourth grade and stuck with it all the way to high school, making the varsity as a freshman special teams player in 2010.
Woodmore said he got into his first game at home against Collinsville that year. A member of the Buffs’ “hands” team, he went in to catch a potential onside kick, but none came.
Woodmore continues to play on McAlester’s special teams unit, including the “hands” team, enjoying downing punts inside the opposing 5 yard line. He’s also played some offensive downs as a wide receiver, and while he said learning the receiving routes came easily, learning motion calls came with more difficulty.
But despite success on offense and special teams, Woodmore still sees himself first and foremost as a free safety. He said one of his favorite memory as a member of the Buffs came during McAlester’s 2011 Homecoming game against Tulsa Memorial, when he intercepted two passes and recorded a safety.
“I’d rather give the hit than take the hit,” Woodmore said.
Woodmore said he’s reached the point where he can tell just by the offense’s formation whether he’ll need to creep up to help stop a run or drift back to cover a deep pass.
“I try to watch the inside receiver and the tackle,” Woodmore said. “The tackle is the first read. He’ll tell you if it’s a run play or a pass play.
“You can see the whole field (as a safety). It’s easy to make reads.”
Even as a senior this year, Woodmore isn’t the loudest player on the team. But because of his work ethic and intensity, he still finds himself in a leadership position, which is something he said he enjoys.
“More people watch you, more people look up to you and watch what you do,” Woodmore said.
Football has always been part of Woodmore’s life. But before he joined McAlester’s inaugural team last spring, Woodmore had never played soccer before.
“It looked like it was fun, and I wanted to try it out,” Woodmore said.
Woodmore played forward for the Buffs’ soccer team. Though soccer demanded a level of conditioning he’d never experienced before, Woodmore said he still enjoyed the newfound sport.
Tallying five goals in his first season playing no doubt helped.
“I just remember I beat the defender, and it was me and the goalie one-on-one,” Woodmore said of his first goal. “The goalie came out too far, and I just kicked it to the left.”
After graduating high school, Woodmore said he plans to go to college, preferably at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford. He wants to study pharmacology, he said, and some day work in a hospital.
Woodmore also said he’d like to spend some time living in a bigger city. But that doesn’t mean he won’t miss the crowds on Friday nights at Hook Eales Stadium.
“You know almost everyone here,” Woodmore said. “It’s loud (at games). You know a lot of faces in the stands, so you don’t want to mess up. You know you’re family’s watching and your friends, and you’ll hear about it the next day, so you just want to play well.”
For Woodmore, that family includes former McAlester softball player Cheyenne Conklin, his older sister and a current player at Carl Albert State College in Poteau.
Woodmore might not say much, but he doesn’t have to in order demonstrate what his coaches call the Buffalo Way.
With Woodmore, his actions speak volumes.
Contact Matt Goisman at firstname.lastname@example.org.