With eight offensive and eight defensive starters among 31 lettermen back from last year’s playoff team, experience should not be an issue for the Sulphur Springs Wildcats when they visit Sherman on Friday to open the 2017 high school football season at Bearcat Stadium.

“They return so many on offense and defense,” Sherman coach J.D. Martinez said of the Wildcats. “They’re an experienced ballclub, very talented. They’ve got some really good skill kids that we’re going to have to wrangle in. Their quarterback (Ryan Humphries) is very quick and shifty, makes some plays. We’re going to have to contain him.”

Humphries 1,846 yards and 17 touchdowns last season as Sulphur Springs finished 4-7 with a 51-27 loss to Mesquite Poteet in the Class 5A Division II bi-district round. The Wildcats eked out a 43-42 home victory over the Bearcats in last year’s opener, but lost their next three before posting a 3-3 mark in District 16-5A.

Aiding Humphries are returning skill-position players in wide receiver Simeon Taylor (805 yards, 7 TD receiving) and running backs Searn Rodgers (710 yards rushing) and Colton Allen (527 yards rushing).

Among the returning players on defense are lineman D’Idrec Dugan (50 tackles, 12 TFL, 9 sacks), linebacker Jaxon Reneau (54 tackles) and defensive back Terrell Turman (35 tackles).

“Defensively, they’ve got some great players,” Martinez said. “We’re going to have to find a way to move the ball and make sure we’re able to pound the rock some.”

The key for Sherman, Martinez said, is making the transition from preseason to regular-season mode. In last week’s scrimmage against Kennedale, the Bearcats were unable to cash in on a couple of scoring chances in part because of not having a short-yardage offensive package installed.

Martinez said that changes this week.

“Now you start game-planning and seeing if the kids understand what the game plan is,” he said. “That’s basically what these four (non-district) games are for.

“We still have our basics. We have our things we’re always going to do. We’re going to run inside zone. We’re going to line up in a good, odd, solid defense.”

Another factor Martinez pointed to is that this week, the coaching staff will also be planning specifically for the Wildcats.

“Whatever they’re doing, we want to attack it,” he said. “We’re going to find a weak spot and exploit if we think it’s that way. On defense, we’re going to roll through and find out their top three or four, whatever they do the best, and we’re going take it away.

“Now it’s implementing a game plan and seeing if the kinds can execute a game plan.”