The Sherman Bearcats football team may be having their bye week in the District 5-5A schedule, but that doesn't mean it's been a quiet week for the athletic program.
On Monday, the boys cross country team finished 19th at the Class 5A Region I meet in Lubbock with three runners — Jacob Charske, Simon Scheibmeir and Armando Arredondo — finishing in the top 100 in a field of 185, while girls qualifier Libby Ticknor finished 84th. On Tuesday, the Lady Cats volleyball team clinched its first playoff berth since 2005 by sweeping Denton High.
Add in last week's tennis playoff appearance and that leaves football as the only fall sport in which Sherman has not qualified for the postseason this school year. And that could happen before the Bearcats return to action next Friday. At worst, Sherman can clinch a football playoff spot by winning at Wichita Falls High next week.
“I think it's a great testament to the coaches we have on staff here, and also the hard work the kids have put into it to the success they're having,” Sherman football coach and athletic coordinator J.D. Martinez said. “Last year, we had the same exact thing for our cross country team. We had the boys team and one girl. We had the tennis team qualify, then volleyball didn't and football didn't. We dropped the ball and didn't keep our end of the deal for it, but the boys basketball team did. Swimming did well and boys soccer did well.
“I think it shows everybody that, hopefully, Sherman athletic program is moving in the right direction. There's some good things that are going on for our kids here.”
Volleyball playoff set
Sherman will face Saginaw Boswell at 7 p.m. Monday at Little Elm High School in a Class 5A volleyball bi-district match.
The Lady Cats (29-10) finished third in District 5-5A at 6-6. Boswell (27-11) shared the District 6-5A title with Aledo at 13-1, but was assigned the No. 2 seed following a coin flip.
Lady Cats coach Ashley Aleman said that because the playoff match will be on Monday, Sherman will not play a warmup match this weekend.
Football playoff picture clearing up … a little
While the Bearcats have not officially qualified for the playoffs, their chances improved significantly this week even with Sherman sitting idle.
Thursday's losses by Denton High and Wichita Falls High leave Denton Braswell as the only team that can supplant Sherman for fourth place in the District 5-5A standings. Braswell, which recorded the first victory in its history last week, must win its last three to have any chance to pass Sherman, which owns the head-to-head tiebreaker. If Braswell loses its next two — Friday vs. Denison and next Thursday at Wichita Falls Rider — Sherman would clinch before it takes on Wichita Falls High next Friday.
There is the possibility of a three-way tie for third place at 3-3 with Sherman, Rider and Braswell if the Bengals beat the Raiders next week, but the Bearcats are plus-12 in the point-spread tiebreaker and would be assured of advancing in that scenario. Braswell (minus-15) would have to beat Rider (plus-3) by nine points or more to advance.
Sherman could finish as high as second by winning its last two games.
With Denton eliminated, Sherman, which has the third-largest enrollment in 5-5A, moves into the Division I bracket behind Denton Ryan. That allows the Bearcats to avoid a Division II bi-district meeting with Aledo, but doesn't guarantee a deep playoff run.
“In the first round, you get either (White Settlement) Brewer or (Saginaw) Boswell,” Martinez said. “That's fine. Then the second round, you get Colleyville (Heritage) or Grapevine.
“The No. 1 seed small school is the prime spot. You'll avoid Aledo and you've got a chance. And if you've got a chance, the next round is going to be Fort Worth schools. After the second round, you go west. You match up pretty good with any team to the west.”
UIL realignment process starts
Friday is snapshot day, the first step in the University Interscholastic League's biennial realignment process.
After schools report their average daily enrollment, the UIL will assign classifications based on enrollment figures, then announce district assignments in February.
The coming alignment will be the first in which Class 5A football programs will be split into Division I and Division II at the district level. With Sherman expected to turn in a number in excess of 1,900 (up from 1,839.5 in the 2016 alignment), Martinez said it's almost certain the Bearcats will be assigned to Division I.
After that, he said, Sherman could wind up in any number of football district alignments for the next two seasons.
“We could be in with (Texarkana) Texas High,” he said. “I'm assuming we will because they've got nobody else around them. They are (Division I) for sure. They might as well go ahead and have their activity buses all ready to roll.”
All other sports will be aligned without regard to divisional status, meaning Sherman could remain with some or all of its current District 5-5A opponents.
Currently, Class 5A consists of schools with enrollments between 1,100 and 2,149. Depending on how much the enrollment range changes and how may smaller schools opt up into Class 5A, the break between Division I and Division II could be somewhere between 1,750 and 1,800. Based on the current alignment, Denton Ryan (2,067) and Denton High (2,049) are the only other 5-5A schools that would go Division I.
Over the last 20 years (10 alignments), the bottom cutoff of what is now Class 5A has increased by an average of 40 for each alignment period, while the top end has risen by an average of 50. If the trend holds, the 5A range for 2018-20 would be approximately 1,150 to 2,199.
Other possible district opponents for Sherman could come from Denton, Frisco (if Frisco ISD does not elect to keep all schools together), Wylie East or Mesquite (Poteet and West Mesquite).
The one certainty is the Bearcats will face more travel for district football games over the next two years.
“There's not a great answer for Sherman,” Martinez said. “There's really not.”