The Most-Improved Texas High School Football Defenses in 2021

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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
Lingleville (6-3) 1A 31.6 64.9 -33.3
Roscoe (9-2) 2A 18.5 47.5 -29.1
Mission Memorial (8-4) 5A 17.4 43.2 -25.8
Bluff Dale (6-3) 1A 32.6 56.6 -24.0
Bandera (6-5) 4A 21.0 45.0 -24.0
Stephenville (16-0) 4A 14.9 37.8 -22.9
Forney (7-4) 5A 23.9 46.0 -22.1
Tioga (5-6) 2A 25.5 47.3 -21.9
San Antonio Cole (5-5) 3A 19.8 41.1 -21.3
Darrouzett (1-9) 1A 39.8 61.1 -21.3
Woodsboro (3-7) 2A 27.3 48.5 -21.2
Joshua (3-7) 5A 30.8 51.9 -21.1
Stratford (15-1) 2A 10.5 30.9 -20.4
Carrizo Springs (10-1) 4A 9.6 29.6 -20.0
Luling (2-8) 3A 26.0 45.0 -19.0
Marlin (11-4) 2A 15.3 34.0 -18.7
Denver City (6-5) 3A 14.3 32.9 -18.6
Gordon (10-3) 1A 26.9 45.4 -18.5
Humble Summer Creek (10-4) 6A 19.7 38.1 -18.4
Houston Waltrip (1-8) 5A 25.7 43.8 -18.1
Paducah (4-6) 1A 38.2 56.1 -17.9
San Antonio Kennedy (7-4) 5A 19.4 37.2 -17.8
Tolar (10-3) 2A 18.5 36.2 -17.6
Spur (10-2) 1A 38.8 56.4 -17.6

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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