The Wylie Pirates had one of the best defenses in the area in 2022 and bring back plenty of talent for the new year.
Leading the way for the defense is the defensive line, which helped spearhead one of the top run defenses in District 9-6A. Holding opponents to 17 points per game, the Pirates are confident in that group leading the team into the new season.
“I feel like it could be a strength of our defense and strength of our team,” head coach Jimmy Carter said. “We’ve got our starting nose guard back in the fold and a couple of good defensive ends coming back that made a big impact for us and we’re going to look at those guys as our leaders.”
the linchpin of that defense was nose guard Cam Draper, coming off a standout junior season. The big tackle was a force in 2022, finishing the year 61 tackles, including 17 for loss, five sacks and nine quarterback pressures. He was named first-team all-district last season for the Pirates, among one of the top players.
“He had a great year for us,” Carter said. “When you have that athletic, big nose guard like him with the defense we play, we expect him to take on double teams and free up space for our other guys. What you don’t realize is just how athletic he is at the position and he’s becoming a more vocal leader for us as well.”
Draper is entering his third season as starter for the Wylie defense, after battling some injuries toward the end of his sophomore year. That leadership will be key to a Wylie team featuring plenty of new faces on both sides of the ball.
“The key for him is to continue working hard and being in that playing shape where he can take over games,” Carter said. “We want him to play more and more snaps at a high level for us.”
Along with Draper, defensive ends Brady Light and Frederick “Deuce” Johnson also return for the Wylie defense. The duo split time last season opposite senior Dane Farley, making big plays for the Pirates in 2022. Johnson has impressed this spring during workouts, poised for a big senior season after four sacks last year.
“He’s worked really hard this offseason to be ready for us,” Carter said. “He’s added size and is quicker than he was last year and picked up some college offers in the offseason for us.”
Light was named second-team all-district last season, getting 29 tackles for the Pirates’ defense despite playing through some injuries.
“It turns out he was hurt most of last year, but did a terrific job for us,” Carter said. “He’s healed up since then and has been working really hard for us this spring and into the summer to get back into playing shape.”
While the defensive line put up big numbers last season, the primary goal for the group in their 3-4 formation is to free up space for the outside linebackers and middle linebackers to get after the ball. All three of those players did that well in 2022, and expect more of the same in the new year.
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