East County Sports


Allen (right) and Pena (left), along with former Steele Canyon receiver Jordan Anderson and former Lincoln player Da'jon Thomas (in hat) at the 2017 SDNFL Senior All-Star Game.



By Dave Dickens



SAN DIEGO (07-30-2018) – This publication was put together several years ago by two sports-minded men, one a former athlete, MONTELL ALLEN, and RUBEN PENA, a fantastic man who served in the United States Navy.

Allen played high school football as a linebacker in Sacramento and later a phenomenal defensive back at Humboldt State.

Montell and Ruben were inspired to create the blog SDFNL Magazine for high school football players in San Diego County to give typical high school football athletes something promoting the preps, however, in a magazine form, since most outlets covering prep football, were online.

“We wanted to give the kids a tangible promoting themselves that they could hold in their hands,” said Allen.

December 2017 issue of SDFNL Magazine featuring Monte Vista’s JAHMON MCCLENDON.

When questioned about how the first issue took off?

As Montell began to laugh, very humbled, he said, “The first issue, we had Mount Miguel’s MALCOLM JACKSON on the front cover of the magazine.”

As Montell continued to cackle, he also let me know he submitted the copy to my father, Bill Dickens, for his thoughts, as he was well-known for his editing and valuable opinion known throughout San Diego County in the local sports world.

The humbled Allen said my father ripped their first copy, so to speak. However, he also gave Allen positive pointers on where and how to improve. The irony, from that day forward, EastCountySports became a big advocate for SDFNL magazine and the now infamous SDFNL PREP KICKOFF CLASSIC, which took form in 2012.

This preseason prep football tournament features teams from the inner city of San Diego County, with squads from the East County and the South Bay.

“The benefits of this game are numerous as it allows teams an extra week of practice to prepare for the first game of the regular season,” Allen said. “It doesn’t count against the teams’ record, it prepares not only the players but the coaches that participate in the classic, and helps to support the San Diego Food Bank.

“I have two passions being fulfilled in this event, while I am hopefully helping the kids playing get a head start on the season, we are also helping raise food as the ticket price is a can of food to get into watch the event.

“What triggered my whole thought process on pairing up with the San Diego Food Bank was an article I read about how many high school kids are either homeless or need help putting food on the table and that touched my heart, and now here we are.”

Allen has another project in the works with his partner at SDFNL and has informally invited ECS to participate in a special event Montell will announce at a later date that will help these high school kids with their transition from high school to college. There will be more details to follow as SDFNL will announce soon.

I learned a lot more from Allen, the person, in this interview as a humanitarian. We get so wrapped up in the athletic portion of our kids who are excellent on the gridiron, forgetting the importance of academics and the success after the CIF championship you won two years ago won’t matter if you aren’t focused on your academics. Athletics open doors for these athletes, however, the academics are in place for a plan B, you get injured, you’re too small, to slow, etc.

Bring your canned food, family, and friends for an awesome day of football fun, for an awesome cause, and please, if you see Montell Allen or Ruben Pena, shake their hand and thank them for all that the SDFNL Magazine does for our community, and in honor of the SDFNL, and my father, Bill Dickens, EastCountySports.com will be there.


Saturday August 11th (Mira Mesa High School) –

Mira Mesa vs Helix @ 7pm-9pm;

El Capitan vs Morse @ 445pm-645 pm;

Hilltop vs Christian @ 230pm-430pm;

La Jolla vs Imperial @ 1215-215;

San Diego vs Mountain Empire @ 1000am-noon;

Saturday August 11th (Madison HS) –

Madison vs Eastlake @ 630-830 pm;

Lincoln vs Chula Vista @ 400pm-600pm;

LJCD vs Kearney @ 130pm-330pm;

Coronado vs Palos Verdes @ 1100am-100pm.

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