The Sherman Bearcats got their first taste of outside competition Friday in their preseason scrimmage against the Kennedale Wildcats. Nothing a little seasoning won’t help.
The Bearcats showed flashes of good play, but also encountered problems that proved costly in their lone tuneup before next week’s season opener against Sulphur Springs.
Kennedale outscored Sherman 27-3 through three quarters of modified game conditions at Bearcat Stadium before Wildcats coach Richard Barrett called an end to the proceedings.
“Last year, after the end of three, I was the one that went over and said we’re done,” Sherman coach J.D. Martinez said. “It was 45-0. This year, they have a great team. We were still ready to go another quarter, but (Barrett’s) a first-class guy. It was late and he still had to get his kids all the way back to Fort Worth.”
Martinez said it was easy to see that Class 4A Kennedale, which started practice a week earlier than Sherman and already scrimmaged last week, was a bit ahead of the Bearcats. Sherman did not begin preseason practice until Aug. 14 after having spring drills.
“They’re a week up on us,” Martinez said. “The biggest deal for them is Coach Barrett. He’s fantastic. First-class program, first-class guy. I’d like to not like him, but he is so great. He’s so classy. I could learn a lot from that guy on how to run a program. He’s instilled a championship program there at Kennedale that we’re striving to do here in Sherman.”
The most important part of the night, Martinez said, was getting through the evening with no major injuries.
“We’re pretty healthy,” he said. “Landon Cole got his arm kind of banged up. Omran Mohammad kind of got his ankle twisted. Those were the two that I saw. But other than that, we’re pretty good.
“Tylor Jones had his hamstring that was still kind of bothering him. I told him I didn’t want him playing. He tweaked it a little bit. We’re going to take care of it this week and he’s going to get mental reps and be ready to go Friday.”
The Bearcats managed 103 total yards on six offensive possessions, moving inside the Kennedale 10-yard line on their first two drives. The two possessions yielded only a 22-yard field goal by Joel Nandin as Sherman struggled in short-yardage situations.
“I loved the way we got after it,” Martinez said. “We moved the ball well. We haven’t worked on any goal-line, we haven’t worked on any heavy package at all and it was apparent.
“We definitely see some things we can improve on and what we’re going to focus on in practice to be able to move the ball in those types of situations. We’ve got some talented kids on defense that we’re going to be bringing over to help in our goal-line package.”
Nathaniel Omayebu rushed seven times for 29 yards and caught three passes for 28 yards to account for most of Sherman’s offensive production. “Quarterbacks Blaise Bentsen and Ben Cross, who alternated series, combined to complete 12 of 22 passes for 93 yards.
Kennedale finished with 294 total yards, all but 27 of it on the ground. Running back D.J. Kirven paced the Wildcats’ Wing-T attack with 114 yards and three touchdowns on 10 carries. He also caught a pass for 13 yards. Braelin Brown added 43 yards rushing on seven carries, while quarterback Evan Jones ran three times for 42 yards and was 3 of 5 passing for 27 yards. Wingback David Roper rushed for 35 yards on three carries and caught a pass for 7 yards.
Martinez said Kennedale’s offense is something the Bearcats won’t see again except for Frisco Liberty in the second game of the season.
“I told the kids to not get discouraged,” he said. “We kept a lot of things for a Wing-T team in (defensive coordinator Mark) Wilkinson’s back pocket. We didn’t show everything we have. At the same time, (offensive coordinator Derek) Thompson didn’t show everything on offense. We’ve got some things in our back pocket that we want to be effective with throughout the year.”
Martinez said Sherman’s approach of working on its own offense and defense rather than game-planning specifically for an opponent was a factor Friday.
“We saw some of the things that they could give us, but we focused on what Sherman Bearcats do and not try to scheme for anybody because we need to get better as a unit, as a team,” he said. “We’ve got some new coaches, too, so we’re trying to work out some of the kinks. We had some hiccups tonight with personnel and special teams that we’ll address and we’ll be a lot better on it for next Friday when we get in that game situation.”