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Posted: March 1, 2013 4:31 p.m.

Allen leaves Newton for M.L. King

Anthony Banks/

After three years as Newton's head coach Cortez Allen took the same position at M.L. King Thursday.

Cortez Allen is returning to M.L. King High School and the football program he helped start 11 years ago to be the Lions head coach.


Allen came to Newton in 2005 after serving three seasons and four years at the Decatur school, which opened in 2001. After serving as the Rams defensive coordinator under Nick Collins, Allen became head coach in 2010, opening his tenure with four straight wins. He was officially named M.L. King’s head coach Thursday, and will continue teaching and coaching track at Newton through the end of the school year.


The Rams finished 6-4 in 2011, before earning a home-field playoff game in 2012, the first time Newton has hosted since 1987.


The M.L. King coaching job came open after former coach Mike Carson was dismissed from the program at the beginning of the year and Robert Freeman took over on an interim basis. With the opportunity opened, Allen was ready to return.


“It’s a tremendous honor,” Allen said. “I was a part of building it as one of the up-and-coming programs in the state, and over the last few years the coaches there have continued with great success. Helping build the foundation and return there as head of the program is definitely an honor and I look forward to continuing that success and hopefully getting them over the hump and get them to the next level.”


Allen was defensive coordinator during the school’s first year I 2001, though the Lions didn’t start playing until 2002. In that first season, M.L. King was 3-7 before going 11-2 in 2003 and then 11-3 in 2004, making the state semifinals in the Georgia Dome, before falling to eventual state champions LaGrange.


Allen then went to Mundy’s Mill until coming to Newton, a job he took over becoming head coach at M.L. King, something he felt he wasn’t ready for at the time.


“I was offered the job a few years back right before I took over the program here at Newton,” Allen said. “I didn’t think it was the right time to get that second chance to return to the place I helped build and the stature of the program is so grand. (This time) I couldn’t turn it down.”


Not only did his head coaching tenure at Newton help prepare Allen for the top job with the Lions, but also helped the Rams improve enough to play for a region championship and have its best record over a three-year span since 1993. Allen also helped coach such standout Newton players as Demetrius McCray, who shined at the NFL combine last week after four years at Appalachian State, Virginia linebacker D.J. Hill and Purdue running back and kick returner Akeem Hunt.


Those are among the many things Newton remembers fondly from his time at Newton, including:
“Just the excitement of being able to help turn this program around; being able to get those kids play hard; going back to the 2010 season when we ran off four win sin a row, were the team of the week and had a lot of excitement in the school and in the community about the program – I remember those times,” Allen said. “Also, just the great kids I got to work with here.”

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