Heading into the season, coaches were asked which of their units, offense or defense, was ahead of the other. The majority of the responses leaned in the direction of the latter.
It's not hard to understand why when you consider the cast of players who were selected to this year's Ledger-Enquirer Dandy Dozen. A handful of running backs and an offensive lineman were chosen, but the majority came from the other side of the ball.
Carver High had three of them -- linebackers Mekhi Brown and Tim Whatley and defensive back Khane Pass. Central had defensive back Christian Campbell. Linebackers Jacorey Butler (Shaw) and Anfernee Moffett (Smiths Station) are on the list, as is Pacelli defensive tackle Chris Rehak.
The majority of these players are getting some level of attention from Division I coaches in recruiting, including Brown, who has already made a verbal commitment to play at the University of Alabama.
"We've got some players with some God given ability on that side of the ball," Carver coach Joe Kegler said earlier this summer. "More than that, though, they're good kids."
Each of the defenders is a unique player who fills a defined role for their respective teams, as well.
In Brown, you have a dominant pass rusher. Last season, as a sophomore, his sack totals weren't out of this world, but he was a constant presence in opposing offenses' backfields. He tallied four sacks and 19 quarterback pressures.
Whatley, last season's All-Bi-City co-defensive player of the year, is a leader and consistent force for the Tigers at middle linebacker, quarterbacking a unit with high expectations in 2013. Among a host of talented defenders, former Carver coach Dell McGee nominated Whatley last winter when it came time to pick the area's top defender. At the time, he praised Whatley's consistent presence and understanding of how to run a defense from the field.
Pass is pure athleticism. He doesn't get beat very often, and he notched three interceptions as a sophomore last year.
Campbell is a do-it-all defensive back and a leader for the Red Devils defensive unit. He's not afraid to stick his neck into a scrum and make contact, racking up 81 tackles last year, but he's also lethal in pass coverage.
"He's our leader," Central coach Woodrow Lowe said of Campbell. "He's consistent and he's going to make the plays he's supposed to make."
Shaw coach Kyle Adkins called Butler one of the best players in the entire area. It's a fair assessment, as the 6-foot, 205-pound linebacker leads a front seven that was very good last year and could be better in 2013.
Moffett is a guy who's been starting for a long time for Smiths Station and specializes in separating players from the football. He notched four forced fumbles to go with his 115 tackles last year.
And Rehak is one of the biggest players in the area and at the nose for Pacelli can be a nightmare to opposing running games.
"He's a load," Pacelli coach Randy Grace said of Rehak. "There aren't a lot of players in any classification that can match up with his size."
That's what opposing offenses have to look forward to this year.
Running backs Esaias Chapman (Harris County), Justin Crawford (Hardaway), Traveon Samuel (Central) and Damarkus Robins (Spencer), all named to the Dandy Dozen, are well-equipped to handle the pressure, of course. As is Hardaway offensive lineman Desmond Barmore, who is tasked with blocking guys like these this year.
The battles between the two sides should be impressive all season long as these players and guys we don't know much about yet step up to help their teams.
David Mitchell, Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ledgerenquirersports.