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Henderson, Reed lead experienced group of Wylie East defensive backs

by | Jul 3, 2023 | Sports

Part of Wylie East’s successful district championship season was the ability to force turnovers on defense.

In total, the Raiders forced 10 interceptions, showing off one of the best secondaries in District 9-6A last season. With several of those players back for 2023, Wylie East is poised to take away the passing game of their opponents next season.

Leading the way for the Raiders is 2022 District 9-6A newcomer of the year Michael Henderson III. The rising junior stole the show last season for Wylie East, leading the district with seven interceptions, including two that he ran back for a touchdown. Head coach Marcus Gold is impressed with his football IQ and ability to make plays on defense.

“He’s just incredibly smart and has a knack for the football,” Gold said. “I already prepped him that seven interceptions in a season is kind of an anomaly, but he’s got a knack for making plays and steps up in the right moments as well.”

Henderson III’s abilities have been highlighted throughout the spring and early summer workouts, as he’s starred for the team that made the 7-on-7 state championship tournament. He’s already received offers from Texas State and Mississippi Valley State prior to his junior year, with more teams looking at him for the future.

With his overall talent level, the Raiders plan to use him even more on both sides of the ball to maximize his impact. He rushed for over 100 yards in a reserve role last season.

“The plays he makes are scary for coaches,” Gold said. “He’s able to do things that you don’t teach him and he makes a lot of plays that change the game. We have to make sure not to overcoach him because he has such good instincts as a player.”

Alongside Henderson, Ki’Neal Reed returns to play safety for the Raiders as one of the team’s top tacklers. Reed plays more of a box safety role for Wylie East, closer to the line of scrimmage, and finished last season with 59 tackles, two pass deflections, one interception and two forced fumbles. His tackling is a tone-setter for the Wylie East defense.

“He’s a three-year starter on the varsity level now,” Gold said. “He’s really important in what we like to do on defense because he can line up man-to-man and also fit in the run game. He can get that done for us and make hits.”

While Reed and Henderson take up the safety positions, Kory Boyd and Jamal Olford take the two cornerback positions for Wylie East and show a lot of potential.

Boyd started in a lot of games last season as a junior for the Raiders, including an interception against North Garland High School. One of the best athletes on the team, Boyd is a star on the track team along with his football accolades and has also received offers from Mississippi Valley State and Montana State prior to his senior season.

“Colleges realize what his potential can be,” Gold said. “He’s long, quick, and works really hard out there. He’s an outstanding athlete and can do a lot in this sport. He’ll be a big player for us next season.”

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