HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Round Rock defense staying energetic as regular season begins

The Dragons allowed more that 40 points a game last season

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It's not uncommon to see the entire sideline start jumping around at Round Rock practice.

The energy level is just one of the things that is being emphasized for the Dragons' defense this year, hoping to reverse a trend that saw them give up an average of 45 points a game last season.

"Everybody on our defense is really hype during practice and you can really tell the difference and it's electrifying," linebacker Ashton Millers said. "It boosts our adrenaline and stamina and we get energy from it. It's helpful to us. I feed off that energy."

Millers said the expectation is clearly to do better than last year, and he's seen a mentality switch from the defensive group and they're more prepared.

The Round Rock defense had had the chance to improve quite a bit during spring practice and the first part of regular practices this fall as it gets to go up against one of the most potent and diverse offenses in the area every single day.

"We made a tremendous amount of strides over those practices," Round Rock head coach Jeff Cheatham said. "Considering we were going against an offense that was pretty darn talented, they were really doing a great job of giving them a fit."

Millers led the team last year with 83 tackles, including 3 tackles for loss. The next closest returning players Jordan Smart with 36 tackles and Julian Jones with 34 tackles, two of which were for a loss.

"We might not have as much experience on the defensive side of the ball, but we've got some younger kids that got some playing time in the later part of the year that have the ability if we grow them up pretty quick," Cheatham said.

The new nine-team district the Dragons feature in boasts teams with a wide variety of offenses, from the slow, triple-option Leander instituted this year to the up-tempo offense of McNeil or balanced teams like Vandegrift and Stony Point.

"It's really hard to play defense," Cheatham said. "It's hard to stay in time with all the run-pass options that everybody is running We sit down and visit with colleges and other programs and there are people that are really struggling with it. The offenses are walking out there with three plays. It's kind of a cat and mouse knowing who and what to stop."

Millers takes a different approach. He said he likes to have the offense react to his movement and make them flinch.

"I love making the offense scared. It's the best thing ever," Millers said. "This is my senior year and hopefully not my last year of football. But I'm going to help every single senior here have fun and it's going to be a great time."

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