TXHSFB 303: Texas high school football’s most improved defenses in 2017

TAKING A DEEP DIVE INTO THE HIDDEN STORYLINES OF THE 2017 TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SEASON.

TexasFootball.com presents TXHSFB 303, a deep dive into the hidden storylines in the 2017 Texas high school football season. Have an idea for an angle? E-mail Dave Campbell’s Texas Football managing editor Greg Tepper.

Previously in the series…
The most improved offenses in Texas high school football in 2017

Today: The most improved defenses in Texas high school football in 2017

Still doubt that defense wins championships? Consider that of the ten Texas high school state champions in 11-man football in 2017, every one of them had an above-average defense.

The average team scored 27 points per game in 2017; no state champion allowed 27 points per game. In fact, only 5A Division I state champion Highland Park (26.5 points allowed per game) came particularly close to average.

So, don’t think of this as an analysis of the most-improved defenses in Texas. Think of it as a look at which teams got closer to a state championship the fastest.

Let’s take a look at the most-improved defenses in Texas high school football during the 2017 season. The metrics here are pretty simple — we take the points allowed-per-game average in 2017, subtract the points allowed-per-game average in 2016, and ta da! We have the amount of improvement.

(I’ll separate 11-man and six-man for this exercise, because six-man’s 45-point mercy rule makes it a little more difficult to measure improvement.)

Here are the top 20 most-improved 11-man defenses in Texas high school football in 2017.

Team (2017 Record) Class 2017 PAPG 2016 PAPG Δ PAPG
Celeste (10-2) 2A 18.50 47.60 -29.10
Menard (9-3) 2A 16.75 43.91 -27.16
Cypress Springs (4-5) 6A 29.00 53.10 -24.10
Sabinal (7-4) 2A 18.36 40.80 -22.44
Hardin (4-6) 3A 23.80 46.20 -22.40
Odessa (3-7) 6A 27.20 49.40 -22.20
Malakoff Cross Roads (1-9) 2A 29.40 51.40 -22.00
Northwest Eaton (6-6) 5A 26.33 46.40 -20.07
Raymondville (9-2) 4A 16.00 36.00 -20.00
Keller Timber Creek (6-4) 6A 18.20 37.75 -19.55
Richardson Pearce (6-6) 6A 26.50 45.60 -19.10
El Paso Pebble Hills (8-3) 6A 24.64 43.60 -18.96
Shallowater (10-2) 3A 16.75 35.64 -18.89
McCamey (10-2) 2A 17.83 36.45 -18.62
Stephenville (12-3) 4A 22.33 40.73 -18.39
Madisonville (11-2) 4A 21.23 39.36 -18.13
Colmesneil (4-6) 2A 31.40 49.20 -17.80
Slaton (6-6) 3A 28.17 45.80 -17.63
New London West Rusk (10-2) 3A 9.00 26.18 -17.18
Fort Worth Benbrook (2-8) 4A 40.90 58.00 -17.10

The top two on this list recommend two of the more remarkable turnarounds in Texas high school football. Celeste went from 0-10 to 10-2 in the span of a year, and much of that can be credited to the improvement coach Demetrius Rector spurred on defense, thanks to standouts like linebackers Isaiah Buckley and Tuffer Jordan, and defensive back Jalen Rector. Menard had a similar turnaround in the win column — from 1-10 to 9-3 — in coach Jayson Wilhelm’s first year at the helm, leaning on a ferocious front seven led by linemen Wyatt Mazac and Mason Stanley and linebackers Garrett Hill, Quentin Baker and Tony Ortega to cut a staggering 27 points off their points-allowed average.

Cy Springs and Odessa represent the most impressive leaps for big schools, while a pair of newcomers — Northwest Eaton and El Paso Pebble Hills — also showed terrific improvement defensively in their infancy.

The 20 most improved defenses saw an improvement of 4.75 wins on average. In case you were wondering, two teams — Shallowater and McCamey — made the top 20 in most improved offenses and defenses; they improved by 8 and 7 wins, respectively.

Here are the top 10 most-improved six-man defenses in Texas high school football in 2017.

Team (2017 Record) 2017 PAPG 2016 PAPG Δ PAPG
White Deer (7-3) 14.40 46.82 -32.42
Lazbuddie (4-6) 20.20 43.60 -23.40
Buckholts (7-4) 34.36 57.22 -22.86
Silverton (6-4) 21.90 43.60 -21.70
Gorman (6-5) 33.73 54.00 -20.27
Wellman-Union (6-5) 33.91 52.90 -18.99
Anton (8-3) 33.55 52.27 -18.73
Iredell (10-3) 22.38 40.67 -18.28
Water Valley (5-6) 40.73 59.00 -18.27
Aquilla (8-3) 18.36 36.40 -18.04

Talk about tough luck for White Deer — the Deer are by far the most improved defense in Class 1A, and their offenses wasn’t that bad (it only dropped by 7 points on average). But those impressive numbers only resulted in one extra win and, as salt in the wound, they missed the playoffs at 7-3 a year after making the playoffs at 6-4. Blame a resurgent McLean, who nabbed the second playoff spot thanks to a 50-36 win over the Deer in Week 10.

Here are the top five most improved defenses in each classification.

Class 6A

Team (2017 Record) 2017 PAPG 2016 PAPG Δ PAPG
Cypress Springs (4-5) 29.00 53.10 -24.10
Odessa (3-7) 27.20 49.40 -22.20
Keller Timber Creek (6-4) 18.20 37.75 -19.55
Richardson Pearce (6-6) 26.50 45.60 -19.10
El Paso Pebble Hills (8-3) 24.64 43.60 -18.96

Class 5A

Team (2017 Record) 2017 PAPG 2016 PAPG Δ PAPG
Northwest Eaton (6-6) 26.33 46.40 -20.07
Joshua (4-6) 25.10 41.90 -16.80
Mansfield Lake Ridge (12-2) 22.43 38.85 -16.42
Dallas Adamson (5-5) 20.90 37.30 -16.40
El Paso Austin (4-6) 19.70 35.80 -16.10

Class 4A

Team (2017 Record) 2017 PAPG 2016 PAPG Δ PAPG
Raymondville (9-2) 16.00 36.00 -20.00
Stephenville (12-3) 22.33 40.73 -18.39
Madisonville (11-2) 21.23 39.36 -18.13
Fort Worth Benbrook (2-8) 40.90 58.00 -17.10
Mexia (6-6) 19.17 36.20 -17.03

Class 3A

Team (2017 Record) 2017 PAPG 2016 PAPG Δ PAPG
Hardin (4-6) 23.80 46.20 -22.40
Shallowater (10-2) 16.75 35.64 -18.89
Slaton (6-6) 28.17 45.80 -17.63
New London West Rusk (10-2) 9.00 26.18 -17.18
Como-Pickton (6-4) 25.70 42.30 -16.60

Class 2A

Team (2017 Record) 2017 PAPG 2016 PAPG Δ PAPG
Celeste (10-2) 18.50 47.60 -29.10
Menard (9-3) 16.75 43.91 -27.16
Sabinal (7-4) 18.36 40.80 -22.44
Malakoff Cross Roads (1-9) 29.40 51.40 -22.00
McCamey (10-2) 17.83 36.45 -18.62

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