For linebacker Alex De La Torre, that meant two things. First, De La Torre's personal goals involved his emergence as one of the top defenders in the state. Mission accomplished. Next, De La Torre wanted the Denton Ryan defense to be the best in Texas. That one is also looking good.
But the biggest goal was to have a perfect season, and after a 10-0 regular season, the first phase of that goal is completed.
"We wanted to come in and have another perfect regular season like we did last year," De La Torre said. "It was a lot to live up to, and as hard as we worked, studied and came together, we were very excited and happy about that."
But just because Denton Ryan had a sparkling 10-0 record doesn't mean that they weren't tested. Ryan beat Mesquite in a close contest 28-22, and won at Wichita Falls Rider 23-20. That game was won after De La Torre intercepted star Rider quarterback J.T. Barrett — another Texas target — as Barrett was attempting to lead the game-winning drive, then returning the interception into Rider territory to set up the game-winning field goal.
"Without a doubt, I think those games really benefit us," De La Torre said. "They tested us not just physically, but mentally. We know that we were able to get through without folding under pressure. We were facing really good competition, and I think that's a huge benefit to us.
"In my opinion, being able to face adversity and come out on top is a great attribute to have," De La Torre said. "If you blow through every game, when you finally find yourself in a big game, you might fold mentally. But I think our schedule helped us stay mentally strong."
De La Torre said that he has also been impressed with the strength of his future team. The Texas commitment said he's been following the Longhorn season, and noticed how the team buckled down after losing consecutive games against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
"Sometimes it takes a loss or two for you to really be able to check yourself and find what you were doing wrong," De La Torre said. "The Texas players and coahces have gone through a lot, with players leaving and everything.
"Against Oklahoma (a game that De La Torre attended), you could tell that they weren't entirely sure who to put in, or what to do," De La Torre said. "But the past two or three weeks they've been able to come together and find a good game plan with a solid group of guys. They're out there making plays, and I think (the Longhorns' struggles) really helped to set that into motion."
The future Longhorn linebacker said he's been paying especially close attention to the work done on that side of the ball.
"They're very aggressive," De La Torre said. "I like it. They look really impressive. They held Kansas to what, 46 total yards? That's crazy in college, and it's especially impressive with a team that the coaching staff just started working with this year. The players … they didn't' really recruit them. But they've adapted and done a good job."
De La Torre plans to enroll early at Texas, meaning he's just two months away from starting his career on the 40 Acres. But first, Denton Ryan has some unfinished business to attend to.
"It's really exciting to think about Texas," De La Torre said. "But I have to put that in the back of my mind, because we have to take care of business here first."