The newcomer in the Denison secondary might not get as much notice as other first-timers on defense but that just means Jamond Wilson is doing his job.

The newcomer in the Denison secondary might not get as much notice as other first-timers on defense but that just means Jamond Wilson is doing his job.


The sophomore safety has contributed in coverage, assisted on the run game and yet anonymity at his position means things are going well.


"They put me in the right place to make the tackle," Wilson said. "If it’s the run and I have to stop the run, I’m happy stopping the run."


Wilson’s ability to react well in the back end has let an aggressive linebacking unit — the home of newcomers Jacob Hunt and Arlton Ardrey — not worry about making a mistake since Wilson and his crew, which includes seniors Derick Bennett and Yefri Chavez, clean up anything that gets to their level.


"We’re asking a lot out of our secondary with what we do," Denison head coach Chad Rogers said. "I think they’re all running to the ball so well. If they break stuff we’re taking angles so well."


Denison’s defense has allowed 10 points per game fewer through six games at the same point from a year ago and the yards per game is down by almost 150 a contest to 303.8. Twice the Jackets have held opponents to fewer than 100 yards passing, including a season-low 19 yards last week against Royse City.


Part of that is the addition of Wilson, who went into the summer without a starting spot.


"It was during two-a-days I earned the right to start," he said. "I thought I’d have to work my way up during the season."


Two weeks ago Wilson had his best outing with 12 tackles, 10 solo, against Sherman and last Friday totaled six total tackles and a quarterback pressure. For the season he is third on the team with 44 tackles (31 solo).


"He’s gotten better and better," Rogers said. "He’s had to do a lot for a sophomore."


Carry on


After Denison’s latest offensive output, offensive coordinator Cory Mandrell has a good problem to deal with.


The Jackets have so many options in the backfield that even when they run almost 90 percent of the time, averaging 55 rushes during their four-game win streak, there is still only one football to go around.


Twice there have been games with three Jackets gaining at least 100 yards and the quintet of running backs Denard Whitfield and Khalil Brown, fullbacks Colton Henslee and Eddie Moreno and quarterback Devon Blanton shows no signs of slowing down.


"Somebody’s going to have the hot hand," Mandrell said. "You try to spread it out early. Not everybody has that luxury."


In the past month all five of them have posted career-best efforts and all are averaging at least six yards per carry.


The diversity has kept defenses from focusing on one ball-carrier — the last three contests have all had a different leading rusher — and keep Denison marching up and down the field.


Last week the carries were distributed pretty evenly (19, 17, 14, 10) but that was more a result of Whitfield sitting out the final quarter and a half with a minor injury. "That was just all coincidental. We’re going to do what we have to to win the game," Mandrell said. "You always want to get Denard the ball. Everyone knows that."


Last season Whitfield finished with 186 carries for 973 yards. This year he is at 129 carries for 986 yards and his current pace would put him at 217 by the end of the regular season. Both Whitfield and Moreno, who has been out with an injury, are expected to be at full strength this week.


Captains corner


Denison is rotating two captain spots alongside permanent captains senior Yefri Chavez and junior Devon Blanton. Last week against Royse City the duo was joined by seniors Will Parker and Sergio Orona.


District jumble


With Denison still atop the 13-4A standings three weeks into the district schedule, just about every team remains in the mix for a playoff spot.


"I really just look at us," Rogers said. "I truly believe we need to look at ourselves."


The Jackets haven’t been in this situation — all alone in first place — since winning the district title in 2009 — and are guaranteed to remain in first regardless of the outcome against Lovejoy.


Denison cannot clinch its first postseason berth in four seasons with a win tonight at Lovejoy but could do so next week either with a victory against Wylie or the outcome of other games.


"There’s no guarantees," Rogers said. "This is the time you want to play your best ball."


McKinney North and Wylie — two teams Denison has left on its schedule and matched up against one other this evening — plus Wylie East are all at 2-1 while Sherman, Lovejoy and Royse City sit at 1-2 with Sherman and Royse City squaring off tonight.


Greenville, which the Jackets face in two weeks, is the only team without a district victory.