4A No. 2: Defense still strong for Denton Ryan

ESPNDallas.com counts down the top area football teams in our spring rankings.


Spring game: No spring game

Coach: Joey Florence

2010 record: 15-1, 6-0 in District 4-4A (champions)

2010 playoffs: Lost in Division I state title game to Austin Lake Travis, 27-7.

Returning starters: 6 on offense; 5 on defense

Key losses: RB Kaylon Alexander, DB Jonny Paramore, WR Michael Cudd, OL Jackson Greenhaw, DL Kamrun Bowen, DL Damon Medcafe, DL Ty Hook, DB O.T. Walker, DB Daniel Martin, QB Nash Knight

Key returnees: DE Mario Edwards, DE Dominique Banks, DB Trey Mohair, LB Alex De La Torre, LB Jordan Richmond, WR Sam Johnson, RB Jerrick Harvey

Key newcomer: QB Kevin Carpenter

Overview: Ryan’s formidable defense carried it to its fifth state-title game in 11 years, but its offense couldn’t keep pace in the 4A final as Austin Lake Travis defeated the Raiders to win its fourth straight state title. Many of the key pieces of Ryan’s defense return, leaving the window open for a third state title in school history. ... DE Edwards, the son of former Dallas Cowboy and current Ryan assistant coach Mario Edwards, is a consensus top 10 prospect in the nation. He is committed to Florida State, his father’s alma mater. ... DE Banks, a backup from 2010 who has offers from Colorado, Mississippi State and North Texas, gives Ryan another strong duo at defensive end, but the team has to fill both DT spots in its 4-2-5 defense. ... LBs De La Torre (a Texas commit) and Richmond (a Texas A&M commit) fill out a front six that has the potential to be even better than last year’s destructive unit. ... Ryan has a number of holes to fill on offense, but given how mightily it struggled in 2010, that may not be a bad thing. Still, offensive productivity will again be the big question mark for Ryan. ... QB Carpenter has been tabbed the starter to replace Nash. He’s a strong runner, prompting Florence and the Raiders to shift to an offensive scheme that more closely resembles the one they ran in the early 2000s with QB James Battle. ... RB Harvey returns after rushing for 310 yards in a backup role in 2010. ... Despite losing burner Cudd, Florence feels good about his WRs, which are led by Johnson, who had 355 receiving yards and three touchdowns in 2010. ... Ryan’s junior varsity team went 10-0 in 2010. ... After an injury-riddled spring session in 2007, Ryan elected to not have a true spring season and gets an extra week of preseason practice in August as a result.