Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Denton Ryan gets head start on fall football practice
Every August on the first day of football practice, Denton Ryan coach Joey Florence speaks a similar message to the Ryan Raiders.
He talks about tradition.
"The one thing we always talk about is with tradition comes responsibility," the veteran coach said. "Every year we graduate good players and it is the players' responsibility to step up and be a great player at their position. We have to take that seriously."
Across town, Denton coach Randy Patzkowski will stand in front of his squad and also speak words of wisdom and motivation.
"This is always one of the most exciting times of the year," he said. "And at Denton High I can sense a fresh start. The attitude and chemistry is as good as it has ever been. You can definitely tell there is a different spirit right now. We have been waiting for practice since the season ended last year."
Well, fans of the gridiron, today it is official - high school football season has begun as area football teams hold their first day of practice this morning in sweltering heat.
"It is always a fun time for players, coaches and parents," Florence said. "The excitement never changes."
Denton Guyer, which will compete at the Class 5A level this season, and Lake Dallas will not begin fall practice until next week because the pair of schools opted to participate in spring football. Therefore, per UIL guidelines, they are not eligible to begin until Aug. 9.
Florence opted to skip spring practice so he can have the extra week in the fall.
"It fits us better and has worked for the last three years," he said. "Because we play a Zero Week [game] we don't want the kids to feel rushed to get ready."
Ryan enters the season among the favorites to win District 4-4A thanks to a defense that returns numerous standouts, especially at defensive line and linebacker.
Ty Hook returns as the anchor of the line and Ryan's three linebackers - Jonny Paramore, Alex De La Torre and Jordan Richmond - might be one of the strongest corps in Class 4A this season.
"We hope so," said Florence when asked if the defense will carry his squad this year. "They are talented bunch and we are excited. We think they are just as talented as our defenses during our state championship years."
Former Prosper star Mario Edwards is also expected to make an immediate impact on the defensive line after the junior transferred to Ryan last month.
The 6-4, 250-pound defensive end is expected to be one of the most highly recruited defensive players in the country during the next two years. His father, Mario Sr., played in the NFL for five years after playing his collegiate ball at Florida State.
"He is here," Florence said of the younger Edwards. "We are excited to see what he can do to help us win some football games."
The dynamic at Ryan is much different than it has been in the past few seasons when the Raiders depended on its offense mostly to win games, especially the last two seasons with quarterback Scotty Young.
Young is gone now at Texas Tech, and while Florence said he will be missed, he is confident in new starting quarterback Nash Knight.
"Obviously our character and personality is changing on offense," Florence said. "Nash is going to step right in for us. Yes, we are going to miss Scotty. But part of being a high school football coach is losing great players."
Knight expected to go into fall practice competing for the starting job with junior Mack Leftwich.
But last week, Leftwich's father, Spencer, left his post as North Texas' offensive line coach for a new job at the University of Tulsa, causing Mack to follow his father.
Denton will also begin its fall season developing a new starting quarterback.
Out is Hunter Dozier, a strong-throwing triggerman. In is the speedy Dentton Hudspeth, a junior who also plays on the Broncos' basketball team.
"You always worry about the unknown when you put someone out there with very limited experience," Patzkowski said. "But he is a smart kid. The kids like him. He has good leadership skills. He is an above-average athlete and he is going to do what you ask him to do."
Ryan and Denton are not the only teams starting practice today. Argyle, Sanger, Pilot Point, Aubrey, Ponder and Liberty Christian also will begin their quest for a good 2010 season. Pilot Point was the Class 2A Division I state champion last season.
The Bearcats, along with Aubrey, will be making the jump from Class 2A to Class 3A this season and will join Sanger and Argyle in District 9-3A
"We better be ready real quick," said Aubrey head coach G.A. Moore. "We are going to have to be ready."
Ponder also will step onto new territory this season as the Lions begin the first full varsity season in the school's history.
"We are very excited," Ponder head coach Ruben Covington said. "It is going to be great to get this thing started."
Practice will last for the next 25 days before the first set of regular-season games on Aug. 27
MATTHEW MUENCH can be reached at 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .