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Denton Record Chronicle's 2020 All-Area Football Team: The top players in northern Denton County

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Ryan's Ja'Tavion Sanders and Billy Bowman Jr. are named Denton Record-Chronicle All-Area Co-MVPs.

Each year, the Denton Record-Chronicle’s sports staff, in consultation with local coaches, selects standout players for its All-Area football team, looking at the 11 area schools we cover. Below are the DRC’s choices for individual superlatives, first-team offense and defense, and second-team offense and defense for the 2020 season.

Co-Most Valuable Players

Ja’Tavion Sanders, Billy Bowman Jr.

Ryan, Athletes

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Ryan's Ja'Tavion Sanders (1) and Highland Park's Walker Cobb (27) at Globe Life Park, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in Arlington, Texas.

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Ryan's Billy Bowman Jr. (2) carries the ball, while being defended by Mansfield Summit's Jalon Rock (4) at AT&T Stadium, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, in Arlington, Texas.

Two of the most explosive players in the state, Sanders and Bowman were practically inseparable on the way to helping Ryan win its third state championship in school history. Along with making a series of highlight reel one-handed touchdown grabs, Sanders finished the year with 1,161 yards and 16 touchdowns on 63 receptions. Bowman led the ream in receiving, hauling in 86 catches for 1,207 yards and 15 scores. Defensively, Bowman made 24 solo tackles, intercepted four passes and scored three defensive touchdowns. Sanders, meanwhile, made 23 solo tackles, tallied seven sacks and had one interception, which he returned for a score. The duo of Sanders and Bowman, which are Texas and Oklahoma signees, respectively, will go down in Ryan lore for helping the Raiders secure their first state championship since 2002.

Offensive MVP 

Seth Henigan

Ryan, QB, Sr.

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Ryan quarterback Seth Henigan (9) throws a pass, while being rushed by the Cedar Park defense at AT&T Stadium, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Arlington, Texas.

Ryan’s signal caller was masterful while leading the Raiders to the state title in his senior campaign, throwing for 3,828 yards and 47 touchdowns. The Memphis signee completed 67 percent of his passes against just eight interceptions, earning Offensive MVP honors in the Class 5A Division I state championship game.

Co-Defensive MVP

Cooper Lanz 

Guyer, DE, Sr.

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Guyer defensive end Cooper Lanz (7) sacks Prosper's Jackson Berry (5) at McKinney ISD Stadium, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021, in McKinney, Texas.

 

Lanz was a wrecking ball on Guyer’s defensive line, and he was one of the reasons the Wildcats made a return trip to the state semifinal for the second straight year. The Baylor signee led Guyer with 100 tackles, made 30 tackles for loss and racked up 14 sacks. He also forced two fumbles in the state semifinal against Cedar Hill. 

Co-Defensive MVP 

Ty Marsh

Ryan, DB, Sr.

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Ryan defensive back Ty Marsh (4) returns a kickoff and scores a touchdown against Centennial at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, in Denton, Texas.

The Hawaii commit did nothing but make plays on a Raiders defense that was littered with talent. The defensive MVP of the Class 5A Division I title game, Marsh made 87 total tackles to go along with two interceptions, two forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, one blocked, 11 pass break ups and two defensive touchdowns.

Quarterback of the Year 

CJ Rogers

Argyle, QB, Sr.

Rogers guided Argyle to just its second state championship in school history, combining for 55 total touchdowns to lead the Eagles to a perfect 16-0 season. The District 7-4A Division I MVP threw for 3,414 yards and 48 touchdowns while throwing only four interceptions. He also ran for 146 yards and seven scores.

Impact Player of the Year

Ish Harris

Pilot Point, RB/DB, Jr.

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The District 4-3A Division I Offensive Player of the Year did it all for the Bearcats on both sides of the ball to help Pilot Point reach the region final for the second consecutive season. Harris ran for 1,784 yards and 18 touchdowns on 266 carries, while on defense, making 44 tackles and intercepted five passes.

Clutch Performer 

Jackson Jennings

Aubrey, DB, Sr.

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Aubrey’s Jackson Jennings (8) stiffarms Burkburnett’s Brady Biner (53) during their game at Chaparral Stadium Friday, August 28, 2020, in Aubrey, Texas. 

Aubrey won its first district title in school history in 2020 behind Jennings. The all-state safety posted 185 tackles to go along with seven tackles for loss, seven pass break ups, four forced fumbles, two interceptions and one sack. The District 4-4A Division II MVP holds the school record for career tackles with 426.

Co-Newcomer of the Year 

Anthony Hill Jr.

Ryan, LB, So.

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Ryan's Anthony Hill Jr. (6) carries the ball, while being chased down by the Mansfield Summit defense at AT&T Stadium, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, in Arlington, Texas.

As just a sophomore, Hill led an uber-talented Ryan defense in tackles with 105. Hill also racked up 11 tackles for loss, notched three sacks, forced two fumbles and broke up a pass. On a star-studded defense that featured the likes of Bowman, Sanders and others, Hill made his presence felt.

Co-Newcomer of the Year 

Jett Copeland

Argyle DB, Jr.

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Argyle defensive back Zach Stewart (2) and Argyle defensive back Jett Copeland (7) tackle North Dallas' Quincy Goldsmith (2) at Eagle Stadium, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Argyle, Texas.

Copeland emerged as one of the Denton-area’s lockdown defensive backs in his first season on Argyle’s varsity team. The junior started all 16 games at corner and made a huge impact while finishing with six interceptions, 60 tackles, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and nine tackles for loss.

Co-Coach of the Year 

Dave Henigan

Ryan

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Ryan head coach Dave Henigan hoists the championship trophy after his team defeats Cedar Park at AT&T Stadium, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Arlington, Texas.

After several years of falling painstakingly short, Henigan led Ryan back to the summit of the high school football world. The Raiders went wire-to-wire as the No. 1-ranked team in Class 5A Division I, completing a dominant 15-0 season with a rout of Cedar Park to claim the school’s first state title since 2002.

Co-Coach of the Year

Todd Rodgers

Argyle

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Argyle coach Todd Rodgers hands out high-fives to players after they score a touchdown against Lindale at AT&T Stadium, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Arlington, Texas.

Argyle left no doubt about who the best team in Class 4A Division I was, as Rodgers guided the Eagles to their second state championship in school history. Under Rodgers’ leadership, Argyle completed a perfect 16-0 campaign with an average margin of victory of 32.6 points.

First-Team Offense 

Eli Stowers - Guyer, QB, Sr.

Eli Stowers

The Texas A&M signee led Guyer back to the state semifinal for the second straight year despite coming off major knee surgery. Stowers threw for 2,489 yards and 18 touchdowns while also running for 1,078 yards and 18 scores.

Max Hollar - Pilot Point, QB, Sr.

Max Hollar

Hollar was a threat with both his arm and legs, throwing for 1,489 yards and 18 touchdowns to go along with 1,378 yards and 20 scores on the ground. The District 4-3A first-team pick helped Pilot Point reach the region final for the second straight year.

Tallyn Welborn - Sanger, RB, Sr.

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Welborn was among the most dominant running backs in the Denton area, posting 1,706 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground. He also added 28 catches for 359 yards and three scores to help Sanger get back to the playoffs.

Braylon Colgrove - Aubrey, RB, So.

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Colgrove burst onto the scene in his sophomore season, leading the Chaparrals in rushing with 1,427 yards to go along with 18 touchdowns. The District 4-4A Division I Offensive Newcomer of the Year averaged 11.5 yards per carry.

BJ Phillips - Guyer, RB, Jr.

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The District 5-6A first-team selection led Guyer in rushing, scampering for 1,378 yards and 22 touchdowns on 246 carries. Phillips averaged 5.6 yards per carry and played a key role in leading the Wildcats back to the playoffs.

Cole Kirkpatrick - Argyle, WR, Sr.

Cole Kirkpatrick.jpg

Kirkpatrick was undoubtedly one of the best receivers in Class 4A the past two years, and he showed why in his senior season. The District 7-4A Offensive Player of the Year, Kirkpatrick reeled in 69 catches for 1,301 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Cam Smith - Braswell, WR, Sr.

Cam Smith.jpg

The Oklahoma State signee racked up 62 catches for 795 yards and 10 touchdowns in his senior campaign. Smith was also a District 5-6A first-team selection and ranked among the most highly recruited players in the Denton area.

JK Carter - Braswell, WR, Sr.

JK Carter.jpg

Carter and fellow Braswell wide receiver Cam Smith were a dynamic tandem for the Bengals. Carter caught 55 passes for 825 yards and eight touchdowns, totals that made him one of the top wide receivers in the area. The senior signed with Illinois State.

Jasper Lott - Argyle, TE, Sr.

Jasper Lott.jpg

A mismatch for every team, the 6-5 tight end was a vital weapon for Argyle, especially in the red zone. The TCU signee snared 25 catches for 329 yards and nine touchdowns and helped lead the Eagles to the Class 4A Division I state championship.

Sheridan Wilson - Argyle, OL, Jr.

Sheridan Wilson.jpg

Wilson operated opposite of teammate Jack Tucker at the right tackle spot, and he was equally as dominant. The District 7-4A Offensive Lineman of the Year holds multiple Division I offers and will be among the most highly recruited players in the area next fall.

Jack Tucker - Argyle, OL, Sr.

Jack Tucker.jpg

Tucker anchored Argyle’s offensive line at left tackle and helped the Eagles average 444 yards and 48.1 points per game on its way to a state title. The Texas Tech signee was also a member of the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Whataburger Super Team.

Kolt De La Torre - Ryan, OL, So.

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De La Torre allowed just one sack on the season and graded out at 82% while anchoring Ryan’s offensive line as a sophomore. He also had 38 pancakes and was crucial in keeping quarterback Seth Henigan upright during Ryan’s run to a state championship.

Gabe Blair - Guyer, OL, Sr.

Gabe Blair.jpg

One of the most dominant offensive linemen over the last few years, Blair capped his high school career by helping Guyer get back to the state semifinal. The North Texas signee was also tabbed to the District 5-6A first team.

Erick Cade - Braswell, OL, Sr.

Erick Cade.jpg

The 6-6, 315-pound tackle has been a cornerstone of Braswell’s offensive line for the past several years. Cade was named to the District 5-6A first team this fall. He was among the most highly recruited players in the area and is committed to Ole Miss.

Michael Mayfield - Guyer, K, Sr.

Michael Mayfield.jpg

Mayfield was named the District 5-6A Special Teams Player of the Year. He played a key role for the Wildcats while converting all 66 of his PATs. He was also 14-for-17 on field goals and nailed a 56-yard field goal in a win over Little Elm.

First-Team Defense

Bear Alexander - Ryan, DL, Jr.

Bear Alexander.jpg

Alexander posted 11 tackles for loss and recorded six sacks to go along with 41 total tackles as a junior for Ryan and will be among the state’s most sought after recruits over the next few months. He has offers from Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma.

Chase Bunnell - Argyle, DL, Sr.

Chase Bunnell.jpg

The Padilla Poll Class 4A Defensive Player of the Year, Bunnell made 24 tackles for loss and notched three sacks to go along with 89 total tackles, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. His all-around play made him one of the area’s top players.

Michael Gee - Ryan, DL, Jr.

Michael Gee.jpg

Gee was yet another member of Ryan’s dominant defensive line and finished third on the team in total tackles with 98. He also posted 25 tackles for loss and seven sacks while helping lead the Raiders to a state championship.

Mason Davis - Ryan, DL, Jr.

Mason Davis.jpg

Davis led Ryan’s talented defense with nine sacks to go along with 78 total tackles. He helped anchor the Raiders’ traditionally dominant defense that shut down opposing offenses during their run to the Class 5A Division I championship.

Jacob Palladino - Aubrey, DL, So.

Jacob Palladino.jpg

Palladino broke the Aubrey school record for most sacks and tackles for loss in a season with a combined 37. He was the District 4-4A Division II Defensive MVP with 13 sacks, 24 tackles for loss, three forces fumbles and five fumble recoveries.

DJ Arkansas - Ryan, LB, Sr.

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Arkansas finished second among Ryan players with 103 tackles to go along with two sacks, an interception, one pass break up and a defensive touchdown. He was among the more highly recruited players in the Denton area and signed with Rice.

Davis Elsey - Argyle, LB, Sr.

Davis Elsey.jpg

The District 7-4A Co-Defensive Player of the Year, Elsey finished with 101 tackles and 13 tackles for loss while also posting seven sacks. Argyle surrendered only 15.5 points and 289 yards per game. Elsey was a key reason for the Eagles’ success.

Jay Cox - Pilot Point, LB, Sr.

Jay Cox.jpg

Cox was the District 4-3A Division I Utility Player of the Year and was a force for the Bearcats’ defense. The senior finished with 144 tackles and had five sacks. He also posted three interceptions and two defensive scores and was a playmaker for Pilot Point.

Carson Stamper - Sanger, LB, Sr.

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The District 4-4A Division II first-team selection posted 87 tackles. Stamper showed his playmaking ability while piling up eight tackles for loss. Stamper’s performance was a key reason Sanger reached the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

Austin Jordan - Ryan, DB, Jr.

Austin Jordan.jpg

Ryan’s lockdown cornerback broke up eight passes and added two interceptions while helping lead the Raiders to a state title. Jordan showed his abilities as a playmaker while forcing three fumbles, recovering three fumbles and recording a sack.

Deuce Harmon - Guyer, DB, Sr.

Deuce Harmon.jpg

Harmon was one of the most electric playmakers in the Denton area before the All-American was lost for the season due to a back injury. The Texas A&M signee intercepted four passes and returned two of them for touchdowns while helping lead Guyer to the playoffs.

Marquan Pope - Guyer, DB, Jr.

Marquan Pope

Pope emerged as a playmaker in Guyer’s secondary, especially during the Wildcats’ playoff run. The second-team District 5-6A pick intercepted four passes during the postseason and returned one for a touchdown in the bi-district round.

Zach Stewart - Argyle, DB, Sr.

Zach Stewart

Argyle football player Zach Stewart.

Stewart was the Defensive MVP of Argyle’s 49-21 win over Lindale in the Class 4A Division I state title game. He also led the team in tackles with 104. Stewart was a unanimous District 7-4A first-team selection and ranked among the top players in the area.

Kaden Kelly - Ryan, DB, So.

Kaden Kelly

Kelly was a key player for Ryan during its run to the Class 5A Division I state championship. He broke up six passes, posted four tackles for loss and 96 total tackles. Kelly will be among the top players in the area the next two seasons.

Caden Dodson - Argyle, P, Sr.

Caden Dodson

Dodson was a unanimous first team District 7-4A punter and was a vital asset to Argyle’s special teams unit. He routinely flipped the field to pin the Eagles’ opponents deep in their own territory on their way to the Class 4A Division I state championship.

Second Team

Offense

Player                         School         Pos.    Yr.      Notable 

Jaxon Holder                Aubrey         QB       Sr.      96/168, 1,374 yards, 18 TDs; 54 carries, 309 yards, 5 TDs 

Tristan McClary            Braswell        QB       Sr.      200/343, 2,745 yards, 27 TDs; 118 carries, 573 yards, 11 TDs 

Rylan Smart                Sanger         QB       Jr.       137/225, 2,075 yards, 17 TDs; 91 carries, 313 yards, 9 TDs 

Tito Byce                     Argyle          RB       Sr.      123 carries, 988 yards, 18 TDs 

Coco Brown                 Denton         RB       So.     191 carries, 854 yards, 5 TDs 

Ke’Ori Hicks                 Ryan            RB       Sr.      114 carries, 944 yards, 10 TDs 

Zach Shepard              Sanger         WR      Sr.      48 catches, 891 yards, 8 TDs 

Keagan Cunningham    Ryan            WR      Sr.      34 catches, 549 yards, 6 TDs 

Cash Walker                Argyle          WR      Sr.      32 catches, 885 yards, 13 TDs

Knox Boyd                  Guyer           OL       Sr.      Charlotte signee 

Lane Bartel                 Aubrey         OL       Jr.       51 pancakes, 2 sacks allowed, 93% grade 

Cody Newton              Aubrey         OL       Sr.      77 pancakes, no sacks allowed, 95% grade 

Morgan Bowland         Sanger         OL       Sr.      First team District 4-4A Division II 

Henry Appleton           Ryan            OL       Jr.       45 pancakes, 3 sacks allowed, 84% grade 

Defense

Player                           School         Pos.    Yr.      Notable 

Rowan Briggs                 Guyer           DL       Jr.       67 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 24 QB pressures 

Jett Runion                    Aubrey          DL       So.     77 total tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries 

MarQuice Hill Jr.              Ryan            DL       So.       56 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 1 defensive TD 

Lezeric Bailey                Braswell        DL        Sr.      38 total tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 4 sacks 

Chase Taylor                 Ponder          LB        Sr.      49 total tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 4 PBUs 

Cameron Carroll            Ponder          LB        Sr.      75 total tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 defensive TD 

Connor Green               Krum             LB        So.     121 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 INTs 

Patrick Wenger             Lake Dallas    LB        Sr.      55 total tackles, 5 tackles for loss 

Terrance Clark              Ponder          DB        Sr.      74 total tackles, 2 INTs, 3 forced fumbles, 2 blocked kicks 

Jadon Hunter               Krum            DB        Sr.      40 total tackles, 7 INTs, 6 PBUs, 2 tackles for loss 

Garyreon Robinson      Ryan             DB        Jr.       55 total tackles, 8 PBUs, 2 INTs, 1 defensive TD 

Jaden Fugett               Guyer           DB        Sr.       24 total tackles, 4 INTs, 3 fumble recoveries 

 

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