By now, local football fans are familiar with Thibodaux High School junior pocket passer Luke Alleman.
The Tigers are 5-0 and have a high-powered offensive attack — routinely putting up 300+ passing yards against opposing defenses.
But what most folks don’t know is that all of Alleman’s successes today are because of the adversity and struggles he faced last season — a time that the quarterback said made him better, both on and off the field.
Alleman had a severe knee injury last season just when he was starting to get comfortable in his position. Instead of competing with his team through district play, he was spent rehabbing for months — a process that he said motivated him heavily throughout the offseason.
Today, Alleman is bigger, faster and stronger after recovering from his injury and on the field, he’s been a whiz. The Tigers are undefeated and are scoring points in droves. A lot of that success if due to their smooth, strong-armed pocket passing standout.
“We have a great group of guys right now who love to be around the game of football and work hard,” Alleman said. “We’re 5-0, but we still have a chip on our shoulder to show the entire state that we can make a run deep in the playoffs and be a quarterfinals or state championship caliber team.”
Alleman’s adversity struck when he least expected it.
The Tigers were young and rebuilding last year, but Alleman was a big part of that process, starting several games at quarterback.
But early in the year, he went down and knew something wasn’t right.
The diagnosis wasn’t good. It was a torn ACL.
Instead of competing against the River Parish teams in district play, Alleman’s fall and winter were spent rehabbing.
Alleman said that process was one of the hardest experiences he’s ever had to deal with.
“It was definitely hard to be on the sideline and watch our team play and not be able to suit up,” Alleman said.
Alleman said he realized one thing when he was out — that he had to get physically stronger to survive against a Class 5A District schedule.
So that’s exactly what he did.
He did 5 months of therapy at Advanced Physical Therapy and also with Thibodaux Athletic Trainer Jerry Blackwell.
Alleman was released to train about 3 months before spring football. Since then, he said he’s been working hard to get stronger than he’s ever been.
“I had to workout very hard and to train harder than ever to come back stronger and be in good shape for spring ball,” Alleman said.
Alleman got better mentally, too.
He said the entire time he was out, he was staying involved in the game to keep fresh.
Alleman said the key to the entire process was his love for the game, adding that he just knew he was getting prepared for the 2019 season.
“I watched a lot of film while out and during rehab,” Alleman said. “Anything to just be focused on how to mentally be a better quarterback and lead a football team. I knew I was going to be back stronger and in better shape than before. I love to work hard. I feel to be successful at the game, you have to love the process — the workouts, the weights, the film and all that. So I just focused on the mental part of the game so when I came back, it made the physical part of the game 100 times easier.”
All of that work has paid off in a big way.
Alleman and the Thibodaux offense is rolling, averaging well more than 30 points per game.
The quarterback has weapons all over the field, sure, which helps.
But Alleman is poised and calm in the pocket, studying the defense, keeping his eyes down field and making big plays.
He’s athletic and has chances to run at times, but Alleman said that’s not his preference. He wants to make plays down the field.
When I get out the pocket, most defenses lose coverage and lose containment,” Alleman said. “That makes it good for the down the field throws.”
So now, we’re all watching to see how far Thibodaux can go.
The Tigers are 5-0 and they have a flare for the dramatic. They’ve won 4-straight games by 10 points or less, including thrilling, last-second wins two weeks in a row — first against Central Lafourche and next against Terrebonne.
Alleman said human instinct would be to look ahead to the playoffs, but Thibodaux is focused solely on its next game, on Friday night against Hahnville — a battle of unbeatens.
“We focus on 1 game at a time and want to get 1 win at a time,” Alleman said. “I think as long as we stay focused and keep working together as a team, we’re going to be tough to beat week in and week out.”