ALLEN, Texas - In Allen, football is a lifestyle.
All you have to do is drive by the campus that houses one of the largest enrollments in the state and the peaks of the Eagles' new football stadium that is going to be the Cowboys Stadium of all high school venues in the country to see that.
Leading the pack of those who will christen the new Friday night temple is junior Oliver Pierce, who was the Eagles' second leading wide receiver with over 600 yards.
As one of the top athletes returning for his senior season, Pierce is first in line to replace Alec Morris at quarterback and line up under center in the state-of-the-art stadium.
However, Pierce is one of the few athletes in the Dallas suburb who places football second, despite his standout abilities. He might even miss two-a-days for the second year in a row to chase world fame in his true athletic calling -- wrestling.
"This sport is definitely the hardest sport there is," Pierce said. "Football, that's easy. That's my offseason. There's no doubt about it that it's the modern day gladiators."
Pierce joined the Eagles football team late last fall after representing the United States in the FILA Cadet World Championships in Hungary, taking fifth place in his weight class.
Pierce beat wrestlers from Mongolia and Canada to earn a spot in the bronze medal match but lost to Azamai Dauletbekov of Kazakhstan.
The world-traveling experience, which included time at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., was worth more than its weight in gold, sliver or bronze to Pierce.
"No one really spoke English anywhere," Pierce said. "It was just a different culture. After weigh-ins, some kids didn't have anything to eat or drink so they would just pick up your water and start drinking it without asking if it was OK because they didn't speak English. It was a really fun experience interacting with people of different cultures."
Pierce returned to the United States just a day before Allen's season opener against Cedar Hill in the Tom Landry Classic and picked up a team-high 129 yards receiving and a touchdown in the Eagles' win. No big deal.
Now, with that "offseason" activity over, Pierce is focusing on returning to state in wrestling after a disappointing end to his sophomore year.
Last year in the state semifinals, Pierce suffered one of his very few career losses after catching his foot between the mats and breaking his ankle in the first period.
"He didn't show a lot of emotion or anything and we got a timeout and said he was fine and finished the match and lost 2-0," Allen wrestling coach Jerry Best said. "He took it like a man and didn't say anything, didn't use it as an excuse, just used it as motivation to come back this year and win another state title."
It was his first high school loss after he won a state championship as a freshman.
Pierce has the chance to finish out his junior and senior years with a bang. Last weekend, Pierce took first in his 152-pound weight class at the district tournament for the third straight year, helping Allen win another team title with 275 points.
It's one step closer to the state title Pierce needs to add to his collection of national and world awards.
He'll then have a chance to go 4-for-4 in district and have another shot at state next year. All that after leading the football team in the 2012 season in front of a national spotlight surrounding the new stadium. And then it's off to Oklahoma.
Pierce has already accepted a scholarship offer to wrestle for the Sooners, representing Texas on the collegiate level.
"It's a great group of guys to work out with and great people to be around and I wanted to put myself in that environment," Pierce said of the program at Oklahoma.
And on Friday nights next fall, if Allen fans are worried about Pierce's nerves on a national stage, he's already performed on the world stage -- and succeeded.
"[Football is] just having fun, that's the easy part," Pierce said.