Sterlington has done a lot of winning in senior Tucker Allen's four years. Allen has collected a school record four state championship rings in powerlifting (2), football and baseball.
You can call Tucker Allen lucky or you could just say his timing was impeccable. Either way, the Sterlington High senior isn't going to argue.
Through the combination of luck, timing and athletic ability, mixed in with a lot of hard work, Allen is the only athlete in school history with four state championship rings (two powerlifting, one each in football and baseball).
Allen is quick to point out that he was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.
"I really hate it when people make it sound like I earned four rings," Allen said. "There was a lot of luck involved. We had great coaches in all three sports, and one thing you can never underestimate — we have had entire teams of talented athletes."
To this day, Allen is a bit stunned by the way everything has played out.
"That just doesn't happen, but it did," Allen said, shaking his head in disbelief. "That was special."
For his part, Allen put himself in position to succeed with countless hours of hard work.
Helping Sterlington to its second and third straight state powerlifting championships, Allen placed third in the 181-pound class as a freshman before winning the individual state title with a total of 1,245 pounds as a sophomore.
Allen's powerlifting career was cut short when the school dropped the sport after coach Jeremy Many returned to West Monroe.
"Not only do I miss the powerlifting team, I think we all miss coach Many," Allen said. "At the same time, we support him going on and chasing his dreams. It's a catch-22."
Had the program continued, Allen has no doubt that he would have five, if not six, rings in his collection.
"Coach Many just won another state championship at West Monroe," Allen said. "We have plenty of guys who could have stepped up into powerlifting with no problem."
Allen was involved in two more ring ceremonies as a junior as the Panthers won their first-ever state titles in football and baseball.
He spent the final three years of his varsity football career at tight end.
"I was a linebacker my freshman year, but coach (Larry) Foster and coach (Bobby) Breen asked me to move to tight end," Allen said.
The move paid off as Allen started for the Panthers' 2016 Class 2A state championship team. As a senior, he earned second team All-District 2-3A recognition after helping Sterlington win the conference title and advance to the quarterfinals.
Just five months removed from celebrating the state football championship, Allen was in on the dogpile after the state championship baseball game.
So, which is Allen's favorite sport?
"That's a tough question," he replied. "When I was young, I had such a passion for baseball. Ten years ago, that would have been easy. But, it kind of goes back to the rings. When you experience the championship and the entire grind, it really makes it hard to say. I guess you could say whichever sport is in season. That's like putting Sulphur against the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. It's a tough call."
Allen and sophomore Braden Hough have formed a catcher/designated hitter platoon for the past two seasons.
As a freshman Allen's introduction to varsity baseball was truly a baptism by fire. When starting catcher Auston Smith was injured, Allen was thrust into the starting lineup for the Panthers' 2015 state quarterfinal game against Doyle.
"When Auston broke his kneecap, I literally went from the press box to behind the plate," recalled Allen, who spent the majority of his freshman season in the P.A. announcer's booth. "I remember Auston telling me, 'You're starting.' I said, 'Stop joking, Auston.'"
Smith wasn't joking. A couple of days later, Allen made his first varsity start in the State Tournament at McMurray Park in Sulphur.
"It shook me up a little at first," Allen admitted, "but it was fun."
Allen is looking to close out his high school athletic career in Sulphur.
Opening the season with 10 straight wins, the Panthers recently had their school-record 21-game winning streak broken with back-to-back losses to West Ouachita (5-3) and Minden (1-0).
"If you're going to have a hiccup, that was the time to have it," Allen said. "They were losses, but it's not like we weren't playing good baseball teams."
Since then, the Panthers (17-2) have won seven straight.
"Absolutely, the losses helped us refocus," Allen said. "The day after the Minden game, it was a completely different atmosphere. We actually finished the (Sterlington) tournament really well."
For Allen, the Minden game brought back memories of a loss to Lakeside last season. The loss proved to be a turning point for the Panthers, who went on to beat Lakeside 11-1 in the state finals.
"The Minden game was exactly a year to the day when we lost to Lakeside in our tournament, and you see what we did at the end of last year," Allen said.
Sterlington will definitely need to turn it on down the stretch this year. Besides facing several area heavyweights down the stretch, the higher classification will bring an upgrade in competition for the postseason.
"We have some big games coming up," Allen said. "We play West Monroe and OCS twice, and we play Haughton and West Ouachita. OCS has a great team this year, and you know what West Ouachita did to us the last go-round.
"We not only have to play good baseball, we have to play smart baseball."
Allen says the key to the Panthers' recent success in all sports is simple — hard work. He hopes those who follow behind him will continue to embrace "The Grind."
"What (the seniors) are trying to pass down is if you work hard, good things happen," Tucker said. "We have some talented athletes and some people who are going places, but nobody works harder. We all have a genuine passion for what we do.
"We have great coaches in football and baseball, and our former powerlifting coach was a great coach. All of those state championships were the culmination of a lot of great things coming together."
Once again, it all comes down to work ethic. To paraphrase a sign in the football fieldhouse, you can't cheat "The Grind."
Having coaches that set the tone helps.
Sitting in the dugout after his teammates had filed out Saturday afternoon, Allen pointed toward coach Mark Sims, who was working on the field.
"Look at that man right there — he's still working," Allen said.
Armed with a 3.8 grade point average and a 28 ACT score, Allen is still sorting through his college options.
"Last week, I was offered a guaranteed transfer to Tulane, which was some good news," Allen said. "I have been in love with the university for a while. I would have to go to another college for a year, keep my grades above a 3.0 and meet some other standards. Then again, I may like the school where I start out and decide to stay there."
Allen is leaning toward pursing a degree in film.
"Majors are always subject to change, but that is something I have always wanted to do," Allen said. "Movies have always been a part of my life, and you can do a lot of things with a film degree."
As far as Allen is concerned, he could not have written a better script for his high school athletic career.
"Four state championships — I feel like that is quite the movie," Allen said. "Things like that aren't supposed to happen, but it actually happened."
A fifth state championship ring would be the perfect ending.