Sherman’s injury-riddled defensive front will be receiving a boost from a player who once showed lots of promise but has since faced a long road of recovery.

Sherman’s injury-riddled defensive front will be receiving a boost from a player who once showed lots of promise but has since faced a long road of recovery.

Two years ago, Derrek Clayton was a first-team all-district defensive tackle as a sophomore during the Bearcats’ run to the Class 4A Division I state quarterfinals. But a severe knee injury in the 2012 preseason knocked Clayton out for the entire year, and he’s just now beginning to return to form.

"I’m glad to be back," Clayton said. "I’ve put a lot of work in and I finally got it taken care of. In the end, it paid off because I’m back out here doing what I love to do."

Clayton was set to go for his junior season when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee during the first Saturday of full-contact drills last August.

He missed the entire 2012 season following surgery and began this year way down on the depth chart as he worked to return.

It took another injury, this time to fellow tackle Tarrence Franklin, to get Clayton back on the field.

"He’s really coming on," Sherman head coach Gary Kinne said of Clayton. "He played a lot of snaps last week for the first time and played well. So we’re really pleased with the way he played in place of Tarrence. He’s starting to get back to that 2011 form. He’s not quite there yet, but he’s getting close."

Franklin suffered a badly-sprained right ankle on the sixth play from scrimmage of the Battle of the Ax two weeks ago. Franklin has not practiced since and is doubtful for tonight’s game at Royse City.

Before his injury, Franklin had 28 tackles in four full games, including six sacks and eight tackles for losses.

*A full ride*

Sherman football alumni are continuing to find success in the college ranks.

The latest one is Geoff Hooker, who was put on scholarship last week by TCU head coach Gary Patterson. Hooker, a junior safety, is the first player Patterson has awarded a scholarship to in midseason.

"He’s been in our two-deep, he’s on special teams and makes plays," Patterson told "He knows what to do on defense. He’s always one of those guys that is always making your team better. When a person gets to that point, you have to reward him."

Hooker is closely following in the footsteps of his father, Allen, who also was a defensive back, starred for the Bearcats in high school, and played for TCU from 1972-76. The elder Hooker went to two training camps with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Geoff Hooker appeared in all 13 games for the Horned Frogs in 2012, providing depth in the secondary and playing special teams. So far in 2013, he has six tackles.

Hooker, of course, is a teammate of another former Bearcat, senior Waymon James, who has rushed for 208 yards and three touchdowns through six games.

*Hooping it up*

Basketball practice officially opened on Wednesday for the Lady Bearcats, who are looking to get back on top in District 13-4A after last season’s runner-up finish.

Second-year head coach Beth Tallant almost has her full portfolio of players in camp. Only two players, senior Jayzhia Softly and junior Mary Kate Motley, are still involved with volleyball and won’t change over until the season ends Oct. 29. A third player, freshman Heather Hinkley, is not on varsity in volleyball but will be so in basketball.

"We don’t have much size, and she brings size, and we’ve got to have it," Tallant said of Hinkley.

The Lady Cats will have even more of a guard-heavy lineup after the graduation of frontcourt players Ashley Crockett and Sarah Anderson.

"We’ve had our four guards all preseason, and we didn’t have that last year," Tallant said. "They’ve done a lot of ball handling and a lot of skills work, and we’re going to run and run and run and run."

The regular season for the Lady Cats opens Nov. 5 at Bearcat Gymnasium against McKinney Boyd.

*Splash time*

Sherman’s swim team will participate in its first action of the season today by hosting the annual Sig Lawson Invitational at Austin College.

Senior Vanessa Orellana and junior Nicole Segich return to lead the girls’ team. Orellana swims in the 200 IM and 100 butterfly, while Segich competes in the 200 and 500 freestyles. Coach Jodi Thompson also pointed out sophomore Rebecca Pressley as one to watch.

On the boys’ side, sophomore Rafael Suarez swims the 100 butterfly and will swim some sprint freestyle this year, while junior Trevor Singleton swims the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke and senior Sean Bohnet swims the 100 backstroke and will also swim the 100 butterfly some, Thompson said. A newcomer to watch will be freshman Jordan Dick in sprint freestyles.

Following the Sig Lawson Invitational, the Bearcats will host McKinney North in a dual meet at Austin College on Oct. 29 and will travel to the Cougar Classic at The Colony on Nov. 9.