Denton Ryan QB Spencer Sanders named Texas AP player of year
By SCHUYLER DIXON
Dec. 22, 2017
DALLAS (AP) — Each time Denton Ryan quarterback Spencer Sanders went down with a major knee injury, he put his mind to getting ready for the next season.
The perseverance helped Sanders cap his career as a four-year starter with the Texas Associated Press Sports Editors high school player of the year award.
Sanders was named Friday in voting by a panel of eight sports writers and editors who cover Texas high school football. He is the ninth quarterback in the award's 11-year history and second from his school. Ryan's Scotty Young was the 2009 winner.
Sanders threw for 10,329 yards and had a 46-6 record. He overcame torn anterior cruciate ligaments in each of his knees, the first as a freshman and the second last year in the first of two straight losses to Dallas Highland Park in the Class 5A semifinals.
"I haven't been around any that have had it on each knee," coach Dave Henigan said. "Tough break for him and definitely a tough break for our team last year. It's a credit to him for his ability to bounce back."
The player of the year ballot included the 10 offensive and defensive players of the year from all five classifications of the AP's all-state teams.
Sanders was the 5A offensive player of the year after throwing for 2,557 yards with 34 touchdowns and rushing for 740 yards and nine more scores in Ryan's second straight undefeated regular season. He was the first-team all-state quarterback for the second straight year.
"I don't turn back and look at my stats," said Sanders, who had 14,024 yards passing and rushing combined in his career. "I don't turn back and look at the awards I've received. I turn back and look at what my team has created me to be. I turn and look back at what I've created my team to be."
Oklahoma State stuck with its scholarship offer after Sanders' second injury, and Sanders signed with the Cowboys on Wednesday, the start of the new early signing period for football. He describes himself as a pass-first quarterback who can make plays on the run.
Henigan just finished his fourth season as Ryan's coach, all with Sanders as his starter. Sanders got the job after his first scrimmage as a 14-year-old, and the only games he missed were at the end of his freshman year after the first knee injury.
"You look back on it as a learning point," Sanders said of the injuries. "You just want to push yourself just as if it never happened. You try not to look back on it and be yourself and do what you were doing before."
Now Henigan has to settle on his next quarterback after another loss to Highland Park, realizing it's unlikely to be another four-year starter.
"I've broken in plenty of new quarterbacks over the years, just haven't had to do that here," Henigan said. "Obviously he's a once-in-a-generation type player so you can't really replace him. But at the same time I'm excited for him and his future."