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Friday Night Lights: John Marshall's Derrick Allen persevered after loss of family home

By ROBERT PRZYBYLO, Staff Writer, rprzybylo@opubco.com Modified: September 29, 2009 at 11:34 am •  Published: September 25, 2009
John Marshall senior Miles Jackson is still surprised from time to time about how teammate and best friend, senior Derrick Allen, keeps it together and acts like nothing happened this summer.

But something did.

All they have to do is turn the corner at NW 114th and Dorset in Oklahoma City for a reminder of what occurred in the early hours of July 18.

With the Allen family at a family reunion at Lake Eufaula, Derrick was awoken by phone calls and text messages from his friends at 4 a.m.

"Dude, is that your house on fire?” was the common question. At first, Allen didn’t believe it. He thought it was just his friends playing a joke on him.

It wasn’t until a firefighter got on the phone that the realization had hit that his house was on fire.

"It was just a feeling of emptiness. I was numb to everything,” Allen’s mother, Glendora Allen, said. "It’s a feeling you just never think about having to go through.”

Electrical wiring in the attic started the fire, and the fire destroyed the second floor.

The first floor was damaged because of the water and the collapsing of the second floor. The house was a complete loss.

"It’s just a blessing that we weren’t there,” Derrick Allen said. "It was tough to deal with, but we were all safe. That’s what mattered.”

The fire was discovered by the paperboy, who was on his route and saw the house was burning. The Allen family arrived around 6:30 a.m., and the firefighters had controlled the fire but were still working on putting it out.

After a couple of days of trying to comprehend everything that had happened, Derrick was back to being himself.

He lost all his clothes, shoes and laptop, among other things, so going out shopping for some necessities helped him move on.

But even his friends can’t believe how composed he’s been about the situation.

"He’s just been real calm through everything,” Jackson said.