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Cody Allen chosen to lead Hillman football program

Cody Allen

HILLMAN –As Hillman begins a new era of football, a familiar face will be leading the Tigers after Cody Allen was officially named head coach on Monday.

Allen, a 2008 graduate of Hillman, spent four years playing for Bill Koenig and began coaching under Koenig in 2010. Two years later, Troy Smith stepped down as defensive coordinator and Allen spent the past six years as a coordinator on Koenig’s staff.

“It means a lot to be named the new head coach. I’ve been around this program since I was in high school. It means a lot to take after Bill because he coached me from fifth grade all the way up. We’re going to try and do a lot of the same stuff that he taught me all the way through,” Allen said.

Hillman has had stability and enjoyed success for more than a decade. The Tigers enjoyed 12 years of success under Koenig who took over in 2005. After failing to make the playoffs seven years prior to Koenig’s arrival and going 0-9 in Koenig’s first season, Hillman turned into a North Star League juggernaut, making the playoffs 12 years in a row.

Koenig stepped down back in November after a district championship defeat.

Allen’s hiring coincides with Hillman beginning a new era of football as the Tigers will make the transition to 8-man football during the 2018 season.

It appeared to be an easy decision for Allen lead the Tigers. A familiar face within the school and community, Allen also coaches the Hillman track team and is involved with junior high basketball, along with his service to the football program.

“One thing I liked about Cody is that he has paid his dues within the program and has been actively involved over the years with coach Koenig. He’s a local kid who came through Hillman and was an all-state lineman and he’s done a good job with coach Koenig building tradition and it’s been nice to see him grow and develop,” Hillman Athletic Director Eric Muszynski said. “He does his homework and does a lot of things behind the scenes and that’s one thing I really appreciate and I felt good knowing how much he prepares. It was really rewarding for me to give him a shot to coach a very good Hillman football program.”

Allen steps in with big shoes to fill as he takes over a program that ended its 11-man football era with 12 consecutive trips to the postseason. It is always a goal for the orange and black each season to continue the streak and the goals and expectations remain the same for Allen and the Tigers this fall.

“We’ve watched film on the 8-man game and started to prepare. It’s going to be a lot of the same for us. We are going to pride ourselves on being the best conditioned team on the field, playing with our pads and hitting hard,” Allen said. “I don’t think there is any pressure really. We know the tradition here and we’re going to keep that tradition alive. The kids know what we expect and we’re all excited to start something new.”

For the first time since the North Star League began in 1956, Hillman will be playing in a different conference as one of 15 teams in the new Midwest Central Michigan 8 player Football League.

The league will be split into North and South divisions. Hillman will compete in the North along with Pellston, Onaway, Hale, Atlanta, Posen, Au Gres and Charleton Heston Academy. The South will feature Forest Area, Wyoming Tri-Unity, Grand Traverse Academy, Onekama, Central Lake, Bellaire and Suttons Bay.

Despite being away from the NSL, the Tigers will be able to rekindle some rivalries with some past area opponents such as Posen, Atlanta, Hale and Au Gres.

Allen may have earned the job after coming up with a game plan to shut down previously undefeated Au Gres team last season in the playoffs. Hillman won the game 15-6 in a big upset.

“Cody knows what it takes to succeed. He is prepared and always puts back what he learned from playing at Hillman into coaching. I think it’s going to be an easy transition for him, but different for the kids in the 8-man game, but they will figure it out,” Koenig said. “I look back at that Au Gres game and all the credit went to Cody and the rest of my coaching staff. Cody came up with a game plan within a matter of days to figure out how to stop Au Gres’ high powered offense and the rest of the staff backed him, the kids bought in and it worked. Right then, I knew Cody was the right man for the job. The kids respect him, he puts in a lot of time. I wish him nothing but the best and I have complete faith that Cody will keep the tradition alive at Hillman.”

Along with Cody, his brother Shane will also be apart of the staff as offensive coordinator and they will look to fill out the rest of a staff in the coming weeks. Shane has also been apart of the program for several years and was a coordinator under Koenig and coaches the high school track teams and youth programs with Cody.

“We do pretty much everything together and he’s basically going to be my co-head coach. He’s going to run the offense and we’ve already looked into filling out the rest of the staff as well,” Cody Allen said.

With less than four months left before high school football practices begin, Allen is looking forward to beginning his first year as head coach of his alma mater.

“It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a tough conference, but our goal every year is to win a conference and those goals aren’t going to change,” Allen said.

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