Despite losing 47 lettermen to graduation, including nine defensive starters, from last year’s state semifinalists, Denton Ryan hasn’t missed a step so far in 2017.
The Raiders (6-0, 2-0) come into Friday’s District 5-5A game with Sherman at Bearcat Stadium ranked No. 3 in the state in Class 5A and share the top spot in the district standings.
Sherman coach J.D. Martinez said the Bearcats will have to contend with a lot of new faces, but added the Raiders still have plenty of talent.
“Their defense is different,” Martinez said. “They have different personnel. Graduation hurt them. They lost some great players, players who are now playing on Saturdays. (Earnest Brown) is at Northwestern and he’s playing some snaps. The district MVP (Tyreke Davis) was a running back and linebacker. He’s getting time at North Texas on special teams.
“They had quality kids, but they have quality kids coming up, too.”
Ryan, which had an open date last week, has averaged 437.8 total yards (176.8 rushing, 261.0 passing) and 44.3 points per game. Quarterback Spencer Sanders, who shared district MVP honors with Davis last year, is back to direct an offense that has gained nearly 60 percent of its yardage through the air.
Sanders has completed 101-of-143 attempts for 1,532 yards with 20 touchdowns and three interceptions. Gabriel Douglas (40-661, 11 TDs receiving) and Chritauskie Dove (20-316, 4 TDs) lead a receiving corps that has four player with more than 15 receptions. Both Douglas and Dove were first-team all-district picks last year.
Defensively, Ryan has allowed 292.0 total yards (141.0 rushing, 151.0 passing) and 18.3 points per game. Cornerback Jordan Rucker, a first-team all-district selection in 2016, is one of the few holdovers from last season.
Martinez said Ryan, which has two state championships on its resume and in five trips to the finals and made the Class 6A quarterfinals in 2015 before dropping down in realignment, is the kind he wants to emulate at Sherman.
“It’s one of those things that what makes a really good coach is really good players,” he said. “They’ve got something going on over there at Ryan. They’ve got a lot of great kids coming up. I think the program has set itself up for success.
“Their program is very well established to where you’ve got kids moving in. When you get quality kids move in, it’s not bad.”