How Fireboff cultivated buffalo bills, rise of QB Josh Allen


The earth is dead level flat here, unbreakable as a Johnny Unitas haircut, an endless quilt of farmland producing cotton, wheat, grapes, melons and pistachios. In normal times, on a given fall night, you can stand in one small town and see the glow of a football field in the next, from Kirman to Tranquility to Mendota; Firebog to Dos Palos to Los Banos.

The ribbon of two-lane roads and the generation of bitter rivalry isolate the peasant communities of the San Joaquin Valley, where local sports border on religion and high school heroes are hardened in lore. Yet these days, these elbow cities feel as one, everyone pulling in the same direction, with the Hatfields proudly pairing arms with McCoys.

Because this is Josh Allen Country.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen looks to pass during the AFC wild-card win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen wants to pass on January 9 during the AFC wild-card win over the Indianapolis Colts.

(Brett Carlson / Associated Press)

Allen, the third-year quarterback of the Buffalo Bills, has one team win from the Super Bowl, and two are hoisting the Lombardi Trophy for the first time. Standing in the way, the heads of Kansas City, defending the Super Bowl champions, host the Bills on Sunday in the AFC Championship game.

“People say Josh is a special kid,” said Bill Maguson, his coach at Fire Magfon. “You can say that a million times and it won’t be enough.”

Even lifelong adversaries are beating their chests.

“I am adopting this run,” said Beto Mejia, the coach of archery Mendota Aztec. “I have to sit back and tell myself, ‘Man, I Trained Against that child. ‘… And if I feel some excitement and pride in it, I can just imagine their coaches from Firebog, how excited they are. “

Three of the NFL’s four remaining quarterbacks are from California – Tom Brady of Tampa Bay, Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay, and Allen – Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City, who grew up in Texas.

At Firebog, the excitement is a rapport between locals, who have known Allen from a quirky child – generously listed at 6 feet 2 and 180 pounds – with a 6-5, 237-pound brewer reminding John Elway of his arm And feet with the ability to damage. At the age of 24, Allen made a compelling case for the Most Valuable Player, breaking the record for Buffalo being eliminated.

VIDEO | 00:59

Josh Allen is the only player retired by Firebaugh High School

Alex Gutierrez, Josh Allen’s baseball coach and quarterback coach at Firebaugh High School, talks about the number of times he retires from his school.

The optional “Allen 17” banners in red and blue will brighten up O Street through the middle of the firebog this weekend. Allen’s extended family owns about 1,200 acres of farmland in the area, not counting his late grandfather’s land that was donated to build the high school.

“Our community, it’s a very special place,” said Alan’s father, Joel. “We take care of each other.”

Joel and Lavon Allen, who have two sons and two daughters, rarely miss one of Josh’s games. They fall all over the country every week to see him play. But Joel will not be in Sunday’s game as he is recovering from a serious case of pneumonia that landed him in the hospital this month.

VIDEO | 01:10

Josh Allen merges wrestling techniques with football in high school

Alex Gutierrez, Josh Allen’s baseball coach and quarterback coach at Firegoff High School, talks about how football players used wrestling techniques to improve their game.

LaVonne is traveling, along with a troop of family and friends, to Firebaugh which features Josh’s uncle, Todd Allen, among his most devoted fans.

“No one works more hard at their craft than Josh,” said Todd, sitting in the family farm office, wearing a Bills T-shirt and a bubblehead of his nephew on his desk. “I don’t care what it is – baseball, basketball, football, and he was a swimmer even in summer. I just can’t say enough about him.”

Allen set the Bills’ record for completions, passing yards and touchdowns, leading the team to a 13–3 record and the 1995 first AFC East title, which preceded his birth. Buffalo has won eight matches in a row and has a chance to avenge their 26–17 home defeat in Week 6 in Cannes City on Sunday.

Josh Allen and his younger brother, Jason, right, along with Marcus Espinoza draw weeds in the cotton field of the Allen family.

Josh Allen (in white) and his younger brother, Jason, Wright, pull weeds in the Ellen family’s cotton field with Marcus Espinoza, the quarterback who was on Firebaugh High before Josh.

(Humility of the Allen family)

Todd Allen, the uncle of Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, looks at photos of his nephew.

Todd Allen, the uncle of Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, looks at photos of his nephew at the family farm in Firebaugh, California.

(Sam Farmer / Los Angeles Times)

“He showed a couple of different things on defense, stuff we weren’t expecting,” Allen said this week of the majors. “I think we did a lot better after that game.”

Under the guidance of Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, and offshore quarterback coach Jordan Palmer’s transformational tutelage, Allen has made notable progress during his three seasons. His completion rate increased from 52.8% this season to 69.2% as a cheater. This is the largest two-year improvement in NFL history.

It is a series of surprising trajectories of a player who was once snapped up by his dream school, Fresno State, and took a more surgical route to professionals through Reedley Community College and then the University of Wyoming.

When the Bills selected Allen as the No. 7 pick in the 2018 draft, many people thought he was too raw and too wrong to set foot in the NFL and took that franchise to prominence.

VIDEO | 01:23

Farm Bills grew up to have a look at quarterback Josh Allen

Josh Allen’s uncle, Todd Allen, talks about what Josh used to do at the family farm in Firebaugh, California.

But Allen has forged and determined on the farm, where he and his younger brother, Jason, cut away grass, dig, irrigate, propel pipes, and even get extensively behind the wheel of a $ 350,000 tractor Choose cotton fields. While his family was at one end of the economic spectrum, Allen had many friends and teammates on the other.

“Every summer, you’ve got half a football team working in the fields, and they do this to buy their school clothes and stuff,” said Alex Gutierrez, Allen’s quarterback and baseball coach at Firebaugh . “A lot of them, their parents work hard, but they need help to pay the bills. Very often there were league tournaments passing by and their partners were working, and Josh was driving around and Will pick them up. He had a pickup, and his truck was always full. He always had three companions with him. “

Over the years, Allen has taken the entire region on a different kind of ride, a real one.

“There’s a picture of Josh’s badass year when he was shaking Tom Brady’s hand, hugging him after the game when they played with each other,” Gutierrez said, pictured on the press box. “You see and it’s like, wow, this is really happening right now.”

VIDEO | 01:56

Former Firebakh Mayor talks about Josh Allen’s impact on the city

Brady Jenkins, former mayor of Firebaugh, California and Allen’s former coach, talks about the impact of the Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen grew up in while in town.

Todd Allen has too many memories to count his nephew. One in particular stands out. It took place at West Hills Community College in Colling, when a wholesaler was in Josh Readley and was just discovering his ability to run on defenders.

Toad recalled, “His team was down to 28-7 on the halt, and Josh made such a brutal comeback that they almost won.” “I just remember him to start running in that game, and I go, ‘Where is he coming from?” He was running down the field, and I was walking right with him at the top of the stadium. “

When people asked what he was doing, Todd told him: “I’m walking with passion.”

Years later, the entire Central Valley can say that.

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