BARNESVILLE -- Coming off a successful season which included a trip to the OHSAA Division VI playoffs and the OVAC Class 3A championship, Barnesville High has decided to stay "in house" for its next head football coach.

Blake Allen, a standout athlete for the Shamrocks a decade ago and a valuable member of the coaching staff for the last two years, was named as the successor to Matt Johnson to pilot the BHS football program.

Johnson stepped down after five years as the Shamrocks' head coach, culminating in last year's 9-2 season which included a berth in the OHSAA Division VI state playoffs and the OVAC Class 3A championship. BHS defeated Chesapeake (41-22) in the opening round of the playoffs last fall before falling to Fort Frye (40-19) in the regional semifinals.

"I'm excited at the opportunity," said Allen, a 2007 BHS graduate. "I graduated here and my whole family and my wife's family went to school here. There's so much pride in the community and we're definitely invested in it."

Allen said he wasn't completely surprised that Johnson decided to step down following the 2016 campaign.

"We worked very well together," he said of Matt Johnson. "After my first year back, he said he wanted to scale back and then he talked about it more once last season ended, so I knew he was thinking about it."

Although he's only 28, Allen feels he's seasoned enough to handle the head coaching responsibilities thanks in part to those he's been around.

"Some might see it as a negative that I'm not as experienced as some are, but I've learned from some good people. I played for Luke Johnson (at BHS) and we had a lot of success, and playing at Muskingum (for Barnesville native Al Logan) taught me so much about the game. Then three years with Coach (Justin) Kropka at Harrison Central and the last two with Matt have shown me a lot about what it takes to have a successful program.

"Being somewhat younger, I can also relate to them (the players) in some ways, too," he added.

Allen says his coaching style is pretty basic, but essential.

"I'm big on accountability," he stated. "I told the kids my philosophy is pretty simple - show up and work hard every day and put the team first. If I don't feel they're doing those things, I'll let them know.The bottom line is be ready to work every day."

The new Shamrocks' boss also appears to have adoped the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" montra.

"Matt gave me freedom to do what I believe on offense, so it will be more of the same in that respect," he said. "Defensively, there might be some things we'll look at, but there won't be a lot of changes there, either. We lost a lot of key contributors, so we'll have to adapt to the ones we have coming back and what they do best."

"We had a very good staff (last year) and I anticipate a lot of the same faces with me," he said. "The kids have been in the weight room and we'll get other aspects of our off-season stuff going."

BHS Athletic Director Mark Cook feels Allen was a logical choice for the position.

"The hiring of Blake as our head football coach should be a smooth transition," said Cook. "Blake was an integral part of our staff the past two seasons, serving as our offensive coordinator. His skills to lead are evident as he led our 2005 and 2006 football teams to back-to-back OVAC championships and state playoff berths. He was also a leader as a player at Muskingum."

Allen was a three-sport standout at Barnesville (football, basketball and baseball). In football he was a two-time D-V all-Ohio special mention, first team Eastern District in D-V and OVAC 2-A first team selection.

He then lettered four years at Muskingum (Class of 2011), earning all-Ohio Athletic Conference honors at tight end as a junior and also receiving all-OAC Academic honors.

A ninth grade English teacher at BHS, he and his wife Carissa (Temple) have two children -- daughter Campbell, who is almost three years old, and son Carter, who is one.