Offenses continue to rule the show at all levels of football nowadays, but don’t think for a second that means the other side of the ball is devoid of talent. In southwest Connecticut, a collection of defensive standouts are back.

Here’s a look at 10 defensive players from the Hearst Connecticut Media region to watch in the upcoming high school season:

1. QUINN FAY/CORD FOX, DARIEN: Replacing Mark Evanchick, the state’s career sack leader, is impossible. However, the Blue Wave’s defensive line should still be quite formidable with both senior ends back. Fay had 53 tackles and seven sacks last year, while Fox notched 50 tackles and six sacks.

2. JAMES MAKSZIN, NORWALK: Makszin, a 6-foot-4, 285-pound defensive tackle known as “Thor,” committed to Temple weeks before the start of his senior season. He had five sacks in nine games last year. THE SCOOP: Recorded 36 tackles, including five for loss … The Bears surrendered an average of 22 points per game.

3. MALCOLM MARTIN, ANSONIA : The Chargers graduated their difference-makers on offense, tailbacks Tajik Bagley and Tyler Bailey, but are fortunate to bring back Martin, a tough-as-nails linebacker. With all the turnover on the roster, the NVL powerhouse will need its defense more than ever. THE SCOOP: The Chargers allowed only 10.7 points per game last year and lost in the Class S final.

4. BEN MASON, NEWTOWN: It’s not a reach to call the do-everything linebacker the best defensive player in the state. An intimidating presence at 6-3, 240 pounds, Mason possesses the speed and strength to make plays all over the field. He committed to Michigan in the offseason. THE SCOOP: Made 113 tackles and four sacks as a junior … Recorded four interceptions and recovered a fumble.

5. ANTHONY NEGRON, BULLARD-HAVENS: CSC quarterbacks beware: Negron had 12 sacks as a junior, tied for the most among this year’s returnees. The Tigers will remain a playoff contender as long as their pass-rushing specialist is in top form. THE SCOOP: Had a team-high 89 tackles last year … Recorded at least one sack in seven of his team’s 10 games … Recovered three fumbles and blocked two field goals.

6. RYAN O’CONNELL, NEW CANAAN: The 5-11 O’Connell was the glue to the Rams’ secondary last year, reeling in a team-high seven interceptions (most among this year’s returnees). Odds are he’ll play a major role in the Rams’ pursuit of a fourth straight state title. THE SCOOP: Stuffed the stat sheet as a junior, recording 66 tackles, four forced fumbles and a sack … The Rams allowed an average of 16.7 points per game.

7. JONATHAN SOBOTKA, SHELTON: With tackling machine Ron Hubbard gone, Sobotka will take over as the unquestioned leader of the Gaels’ defense. The speedy linebacker played a key role in the Gaels’ run to the Class LL final last year, registering 95 tackles. THE SCOOP: One of 28 seniors back for the SCC contenders … Notched four sacks and five forced fumbles last year … Had 12 tackles and one interception in the state final loss to Darien.

8. ZACHARY SPENCER, WESTON: The 6-1, 215-pound linebacker has shown a knack for making big plays. As a junior, Spencer notched 99 tackles, including 17 for loss. THE SCOOP: Recorded 4.5 sacks and forced four fumbles … Has 207 over two years with the Trojans.

9. JOE TURNER, TRUMBULL: The 5-11 Turner blossomed into one of the state’s premier pass rushers as a sophomore, racking up 11 sacks in just eight games. The veteran-laden Eagles are hoping their star defensive end can make a similar impact this fall. The scoop: Recorded 45 tackles, including 18 for loss … Had four sacks in a 17-10 loss to St. Joseph on Thanksgiving.

10. PAUL WILLIAMS, GREENWICH: Williams, who recently committed to Fordham, is more than just an ace long snapper. Coming off a 32-tackle season, the 5-11 Williams figures to be a key member of the Cardinals’ linebacker corps, alongside Michael Ceci. THE SCOOP: Had seven tackles for loss as a junior … The Cardinals finished 4-5 and allowed an average of 27.5 points per game last year.

dbonjour@ctpost.com; @DougBonjour