Defense is increasingly becoming the coin of the realm in Texas high school football.
We've discussed how offenses took a big leap in 2021 across the Lone Star State, but a hardy defense is still required to win at the highest levels. To wit: 11 of the 12 UIL state champions in 2021 had a scoring defense that ranked in the top 10 of their classification — only 1A Division I champ Westbrook (12th) was an outlier.
So if defense is still required to win a title, which teams made the biggest strides in that department in 2021? Let's take a look at who improved their defense the most from 2020 to 2021.
The 25 Most-Improved Texas High School Football Defenses
|Team (Record)||Class||2021 PAPG||2020 PAPG||PAPG Delta|
|Mission Memorial (8-4)||5A||17.4||43.2||-25.8|
|Bluff Dale (6-3)||1A||32.6||56.6||-24.0|
|San Antonio Cole (5-5)||3A||19.8||41.1||-21.3|
|Carrizo Springs (10-1)||4A||9.6||29.6||-20.0|
|Denver City (6-5)||3A||14.3||32.9||-18.6|
|Humble Summer Creek (10-4)||6A||19.7||38.1||-18.4|
|Houston Waltrip (1-8)||5A||25.7||43.8||-18.1|
|San Antonio Kennedy (7-4)||5A||19.4||37.2||-17.8|
Six-man football's Lingleville lap the fied to claim the crown of the state's most improved defense, as the Cardinals allowed a stunning 33.3 fewer points per game in 2021 than in 2020 — they went from literally dead-last in 1A Division I in scoring defense to 13th overall. The emergence of all-district linebacker Joseph Briseno helped fuel a remarkable turnaround for coach Kenneth Davis' bunch.
Roscoe checks in second, as 11-man's most improved defense. The Plowboys allowed 29.1 fewer points per game this season, thanks to defensive back Antonio Aguayo, defensive lineman Reese Kiser and a strong supporting cast. Down in the Rio Grande Valley, Class 5A Mission Veterans Memorial lays claim to big-school's most improved defense, and it helped in the win column, too — the Patriots went from 1-5 in 2020 to 8-4 in 2021.
Speaking of defense sparking a big improvement, 4A Division I state champion Stephenville rode the state's sixth-most improved defense to a state title, while Stratford did the same in 2A Division II with Texas' 12th-most improved unit.
Humble Summer Creek made the biggest defensive improvement in Class 6A; Bandera earned the nod in Class 4A; and impressive San Antonio Cole boasted 3A's most improved defense.
On the other side of this conversation: Pharr Valley View (+44.4 points allowed per game), San Antonio YMLA (+40.6), Houston Milby (+39), Dallas Jefferson (+38.9) and Monte Alto (+37.8) took the biggest hit defensively year over year.
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