Ryan’s defensive tackles coach Aaron De La Torre found himself watching film of junior Mason Davis during some downtime before practice on Monday. He pointed to two of Davis’ three sacks from the Raiders’ 35-21 win over Frisco Lone Star, but it wasn’t to brag about his instincts, how quickly he got off the ball or that he manhandled everyone.
All of those things were true, of course. But that wasn’t the point De La Torre was trying to make with his film study.
“This is what I mean. Watch what he does — sack; everyone is celebrating. But not Mason,” De La Torre says with a chuckle as he points at the screen. “He just got a sack and is like, ‘OK … back to work.’ No reaction.”
Davis is one of the more dominant, under-the-radar players the Raiders have on their defensive line and arguably turned in his best performance of the season that night.
He tallied 11 total tackles, including four for loss, to go with three sacks, five pressures and three quarterback knockdowns. Ryan (9-0) held Lone Star to 150 total yards and 11 first downs while winning its sixth straight district title. But whether you were watching the game live or catching highlights in slow motion on De La Torre’s computer, you’d be hard-pressed to see Davis show an ounce of emotion.
“It’s like he’s just clockin’ in for work,” De La Torre said. “He’s a hard worker.”
Davis agreed that he has a long way to go in the showing emotion department. But he admits if there is anything that gets him juiced mid-game, it’s that he gets to play with his twin brother, Michael.
Michael Davis, who is one minute older than Mason, is a starting wide receiver for the Raiders and shares a similar blue-collar approach to making big plays. It is that team-first attitude and hard-work mentality that the No. 1 Raiders want to emulate as they begin their postseason journey on Friday against Dallas Bryan Adams at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.
“I want to celebrate [when I make a play], but I can’t bring myself to do it,” Mason Davis said. “It’s just not my personality. But when I’m on the sideline, I’m watching Michael and getting excited over his big plays. It’s a special experience. Not many people can say they get to play with their twin while also playing for a program like Denton Ryan.”
His brother agreed.
“I don’t celebrate much either now that I think about it — unless it’s when Mason makes a big play,” Michael Davis said. “It actually helps that he’s on defense, and I’m on offense. There’s nothing more exciting.”
Other than winning a state title, of course. The Davis brothers were on last year’s team that lost to Alvin Shadow Creek in the state title game. They also watched as Ryan came up short in the state semifinals in 2016, 2017 and 2018. This year, Ryan has been the No. 1 team in the state since the preseason and has maintained that perch courtesy of a regular-season schedule that has it looking far more battle-tested than in years past.
The Raiders opened the year with back-to-back wins over Class 6A teams Arlington Martin and Guyer. While they weren’t tested much after that, they closed the year with solid wins over Frisco Independence and Frisco Lone Star, both of whom are playoff-bound. The Lone Star game was a rematch of last year’s state semifinal, a game Ryan won 35-7.
While the Davis brothers made their mark on last year’s team, they’ve seen their production increase tenfold this year. Mason is a key cog in an extremely disruptive pass rush that includes five-star recruits Keithian “Bear” Alexander and Texas commit Ja’Tavion Sanders along with Jay Sheppard and Michael Gee.
Through nine games, Mason Davis has 47 total tackles, 17 for loss, and six sacks.
“I just trust that if I go out there and do my job for this team, then the rest will work itself out,” Mason said. “I take a lot of inspiration from guys like Earnest Brown and Mario Edwards Jr. [who came before me]. I want to be like them.”
While Mason has turned into a defensive star, Michael made the leap from being a back-up linebacker to taking on a more significant role on offense. He comes into Friday’s game with 10 catches for 183 yards and two touchdowns despite missing some time with an ankle injury. Fully healthy, he represents a deeper receiving core than in years past. And as a result, Ryan has the No. 2 offense in the area among Class 5A teams with an average of 496.67 yards per game.
They are No. 4 in scoring with just shy of 47 points per game.
“There are a bunch of guys like me who can step in and help this team,” Michael said. “I enjoy being one of them.”
Ryan coach Dave Henigan agreed.
“[Michael and Mason] are good football players, but they are also good kids,” Henigan said. “They bring character to our program. They do the right things. They are good students, and they work hard. They are also team oriented. They are bringing a lot of intangibles in addition to the fact that they are really good players.”
Mason and Michael Davis say it’s all in a day’s work. They rarely argue about anything, and they almost always pick up on what the other is thinking.
And right now, their singular focus is on helping Ryan finish what it started.