High school football coaches have long been known to consider each week’s game the biggest of the season so far “because that’s the next game.”
There’s no doubt the Sherman Bearcats face a big game Friday when they visit Wichita Falls High at Memorial Stadium for a District 5-5A contest. Some might even consider it the biggest game so far of J.D. Martinez’s tenure with the Bearcats.
All Sherman (4-4, 2-2) needs to clinch its first playoff berth since 2012 is a victory over the Coyotes (2-7, 0-5).
“You’re always looking for motivation,” Martinez said. “I don’t know what better motivation you could have than (clinching a playoff berth). ‘You’re about to do something here that hasn’t been done in a long time, since 2012.’ A lot of these guys were in the seventh grade.
“Some of these guys have never experienced that and I want it so much for the kids. Some of these coaches that may not have been in the playoffs, I’d love that for their experience of it. And I want it for the community. It’s been a long time coming here and I’d love to see the community support them, get excited about it, especially for our kids. When you talk to the kids, they stress that they want to do it for their city about going to the playoffs and what it means to represent Sherman football. They always talk about their city.”
To secure an 11th game, however, the Bearcats must avoid taking WFHS lightly. The Coyotes have lost six in a row — including a 54-41 setback against Denton Braswell that was the Bengal’s first victory in program history — and haven been within 28 points in their other district outings.
“We want a business-like attitude,” Martinez said. “We need to go out there and just take care of business. At the same time, from a coaching standpoint, make sure we go out there and run faster, block, hit harder, all those things.”
And Martinez said the Bearcats have shown that attitude during this week’s practices.
“I think it’s business as usual,” he said. “I think our kids are locked in. Our coaching staff is locked in. We know what task is in front of us.
“We just want to work on being the best football team we can be for Sherman High School. That’s the message we’re sending. That’s what we’re putting out there and our kids are, hopefully, drinking the Kool-Aid.”
Sherman comes in averaging 353.9 total yards (214.3 rushing, 139.6 passing) and 28.1 points per game. Running back Nathaniel Omayebyu (163-1,078, 13 TDs rushing) went over the 1,00-yard mark for the second year in a row in the Bearcats’ last outing, a 53-19 loss to Denton Ryan on Oct. 20. Quarterback Blaise Bentsen (86-160-5 1,117, 10 TDs passing) and receivers Tylor Jones (28-477, 4 TDs receiving), Jeremy Norvell (22-155, 1 TD), Jaylyn Cleamons (10-162, 2 TDs) give Sherman options against what Martinez called the Coyotes’ strength.
“Their strength is their front four defensive linemen,” Martinez said. “I think that goes with one of our strengths, our offensive line, nowadays. (Wichita Falls’ defensive linemen) do a really good job and they’re big and physical.
“We’re going to have to be smart and maybe instead of grabbing the hammer, let’s reach for a different tool. Let’s exploit where they’re not really strong. Attack that first, get them tired and then come back and punch them in the gut. We have some plans in place to get those big guys running first, then come back when they get a little gassed.”
Defensively, Sherman allows 369.6 total yards (180.4 rushing, 189.3 passing) and 28.6 points per game. Safety Austin Bindel (33 total tackles), linebacker Cody Hunter (32) and safety Gage Smith (29) and are the leading tacklers. Bindel and Smith each have scored defensive touchdowns in the last two games.